Before the Film’s Release
Students can either draw by hand or on the computer some graphics/pictures for a poster, then throw a few exciting phrases on it (like “coming soon” or “the worldwide sensation” or whatever), as well as the title and release date. Pair-work might be better for this activity, since not every student is visually creative.
Students can write little dossiers about the characters. They might not know a lot of details, so it might just be impressions from the trailers or what else they can read online. Just a little blurb about five of the characters should be enough (including what they look like, their general attitude, their skills, their relationships with other characters, etc.)
If the movie is a part of a larger franchise the students are familiar with, do a more detailed profile of a single character of their choosing.
In groups of four-ish, students can film themselves (just with smart-phones, if they have them. Or perhaps the teacher can do the actual filming) re-creating the trailer. They can also expand on moments, cut moments out, or edit it however they want. If they think they now enough of the story, maybe they don’t even need to use the official trailer as a starting point, and they can script their own trailer themselves. Students will need to co-ordinate who plays which part and which scenes to include when.
Each student can write two or three paragraphs on what they think will happen throughout the film (beyond what’s obvious from the official trailers) and how it’ll end.
After Watching the Film
Each student should write a three-to-four-paragraph summary of the film. This should have little to no opinions; just explain objectively what happened.
Here, the students can express their personal opinions. If they already wrote summaries they don’t need to do it again; otherwise just a two-or-three-sentence synopsis should be fine.
How much did each student like the film, out of 5 stars? What are three things they liked about it? What are three things they disliked about it? For older students, you might want to have them give separate star-ratings for the story, the characters, the visuals, the music, etc.
In groups of four or so, students can re-enact their favorite scene from the movie. They’ll need to co-ordinate amongst themselves, script the scene, and practice it. They can either perform in front of the class or in front of a camera (it’s up to you).
In groups of two or three, students can put together some questions about the viewing experience and ask their friends and family, or ask students in other classes. Either each group is responsible for their own survey, or you can do a collective survey in which each group is responsible for collecting responses to a single question.
Some sample questions include:
- How much did you like it, on a scale of one to five?
- Who was your favorite character?
- What adjective would you use to describe the film?
- Would you watch it again?
Follow the same steps as the re-enactment, except this time the students (in groups) need to think of an script a different ending.
As always, you don’t have to do all of these activities to do some of them; pick which ones are best for your students, or which ones they’ll enjoy. And of course, you can change or add rules as you desire. But having them go through a campaign of activities rather than only writing a review might get them more invested.
The students can play it serious or in a silly manner. I rarely mind my students being silly so long as they get the task done (on time), they do it using English as best as they can, and they don’t do anything inappropriate.
Lastly, it’s hard to choose a movie that literally every student in your class will enjoy. So maybe give them two or three movies to choose from, if they’re coming out around the same time. Or, you can give them the assignment at the beginning of the year, and they can do this project at any point before the end of the year (therefore, one group’s project might be finished before another begins, depending on when their film comes out).
Most of all, have fun!