One of the standout winners from The DIGIs 2015 was the winner for the Key Stage 2 Best Short Film category from Trinity CE Primary School. Called simply “Road Safety”, the film begins with a road accident involving a school student, and takes us backwards through the day that culminated in the tragedy.

What is it that makes this short film so effective? Here are some quick observations.

  • The film is based on a single, simple idea. It’s not complex. The core idea of the film could easily be summarised in a couple of sentences.
  • The idea of taking us backwards through time engages us and creates scope for intriguing shots like the teddy flying backwards from the scene of the accident1.
  • All of the shots in the film are carefully thought out and every shot serves a purpose in the storytelling. Many of the shots are close ups - reaction shots, signs, a foot stepping off the pavement. The camera stays largely stationery for each shot2.
  • The clever, but not overdone, use of green screen for the final shot creates a highly emotive image - the girl, her teddy bear, intense regret.
  • There is no dialogue in the film. Shooting dialogue is tricky. You need decent microphones, and the acting skills of the students really need to shine. In the case of this film, dialogue is unnecessary. The story is told perfectly through visual storytelling, accompanied by a perfect music choice.

The film is a compelling piece of work, and contains an important messages. All films should make us feel something - happiness, excitement, fear, laughter - and this film really delivers in shocking and saddening the viewer.

1 The "backwards through time" idea is, of course, not original - I have no idea whether the students and staff at Trinity had seen Coldplay’s music video for “The Scientist” but there is a similarity in concept.

2 There is a place in films for tracking and panning shots of course, but achieving a smooth look for these when shooting handheld with an iPad or small video camera is problematic. If in doubt, keep the camera still, and tell your story through a series of different shots rather than attempting to track the action.