When I was in Junior High, I filmed several movies in Super 8. Never actually saw my final creations, some grad student whisked them away for her thesis. I have vague memories of claymation battles with swizzle-stick swords and something about a science-classroom skeleton my friend Bill Williams and I skeleton-napped.
While some kids will harbor Hollywood dreams (give them a copy of Rebel Without a Crew to wake them up) for most children it’s a purely creative process. The easiest thing to do is send the kids to the park with the camcorder and let them go crazy. Have them experiment with the camera controls and learn all the bells and whistles.
For a more formalized experience, encourage the kids to write and stick to a script, using standard film industry formats. A script might enable the shy kids to shoulder an equal part of the work and glory, and could pinpoint gaps in the narrative before arriving at the editing phase.
Sharing the final masterpiece has never been so easy, thanks to sites like Youtube, not to mention dirt-cheap DVD burners. For that truly platinum creation, there are even film fests for children. For instance, Girls in the Directors Chair is a national organization aimed at upping womens’ 16% representation in the film industry by supporting teenage girls’ filmmaking aspirations.