On the 8th February 2021, Wycombe High School was announced as the winner of the National Film & Television School Commercial Challenge. The NFTS selected ten schools in Buckinghamshire to participate in a competition to create a 30 second commercial, promoting their school to prospective students and their parents, along with a storyboard and a reflection sheet. It included a virtual masterclass held by cinematographer Stuart Harris on what makes a good commercial, and his advice was invaluable.
We then got together and started brainstorming how we wanted to shoot the advert, what we wanted it to be about and how best to showcase our school, all of which would be quite challenging given the 30 second limit and current COVID-19 regulations. We quickly realised we wanted to show a student’s journey through the school, from opening their first planner in year 7 to closing their final planner in year 13. However, after the masterclass in October, we didn’t give it much thought.
Two months passed, and we all received an email, hoping we were in ‘mid production right now as we approach November’. After this email lit up our phone screens on a Monday lunch, Emma, Julia, Evie, Naomi and I all looked at each other, horrified, as we were completely behind schedule. Others had clearly felt the same, as there were enough drop-outs to decide to withdraw our entry in the competition. However, we were determined to persevere, and with enough promises to finish in time, we were given the green light.
And so began the frantic Teams message chase, and with a deadline of the end of the Christmas term, we were going to have to be fast. With enough luck, we managed to book in short slots in lesson times across year groups (all wearing masks and distancing) in a variety of subjects, forcing us to run around in our frees, cameras in hand. As a team we pulled together, comparing timetables to see who was able to run over to the Year 8 Graphics lesson, or whether we could politely ask the Sixth Form art students to walk through their classroom whilst they worked during lunchtime. After a few panicked after school FaceTimes and editing from Naomi, we were finished!
Fast-forward to February for the virtual results over Zoom, where Stuart Harris went through an analysis of each school’s entry, before announcing the top three in reverse order, and Wycombe High School came out on top! We had a separate video call on at the same time to see all our reactions, and we were definitely shocked!
I am most proud of our ability to work together as a team, and proved to us how important teamwork and cooperation was, as well as being able to delegate work amongst each other. It was really exciting to be part of something unique that we otherwise wouldn’t have done in a regular school setting. With some of us considering pursuing a career in film, it was interesting to see how much planning and preparation it takes – it is so much more than just pressing record! We would like to thank Miss Spiteri and Mr Binks for their help and support whilst making this: we quite literally couldn’t have done it without you.
Martha Powell, Year 12