Before you try the activities here, watch the films, explore the information provided alongside them, and have go at some of the writing exercises in the accompanying student resources.
The aim of this resource is to help you produce your own Page Fright film from either one of the poems you’ve written or from a poem that inspires you, and to help you produce similar contextual material to that provided on the Page Fright webpages.
Once you have filmed your performance and gathered some supporting information, you can create a webpage, or YouTube film to share it with your friends, your class, or with The Poetry Society.
To begin with, pick a poem you’d like to have a go at performing. This could either be one that you have written whilst working through the Page Fright student resources, or one which particularly inspires you, or one you’d like to explore further.
Read the poem over a few times and then have a go at performing it. Think carefully about how you perform the poem; tone of voice, volume, pace, gesture and body language will all effect the impact the poem has. If you have time, record yourself a few times on a camera or mobile phone, watching the film back and noting each time what you can improve.
When you are happy with your performance, film a final take on a camera, mobile phone or webcam.
Contextualising your poem
The next step, to present your poems like the Page Fright films online, is to surround your poem with background information to help the viewer understand the poem and its context. Think of anything which is relevant to the poem and will help viewers understand it. You may want to include some of the following:
• News stories or documentaries. Are there articles which discuss issues raised in your poem? Do they support the view you have taken or oppose them?
• Definitions. If there are unusual words, might you need to provide a definition to make sure people watching know what they mean?
• Historical or Cultural references. Does your poem refer to anything which might need an explanation? For example ‘Ozymandias’ was named after an Egyptian pharaoh, which might need explaining.
• Visual art and music. Have other artists tried to tackle the same issues or themes? Is there a piece of music with a similar subject, tone or rhythm to your poem?
You can either keep this information in a document to accompany your film, or if you want to, then you can upload your spoken word film to YouTube and use the film description or the ‘annotations’ function to include the links to the information.
Make sure that you ensure the film is set to ‘private’ unless you’re happy to share it.
Another way in which the Page Fright films explore the poems and their background is to interview the poets who are performing them.
You too can make your own filmed interviews to accompany your poems.
Prepare questions which will dig into the themes, imagery and structure of your poem and think about what you might want to tell the audience about the poem.
You could use the following questions to start you off:
• What visual images come to mind when you listen to the poem?
• What is your favourite line in the poem? Why?
If you wrote the poem:
• What inspired you to write your poem?
• How did you use structure, rhythm and imagery?
• What do you want the poem to make the viewer feel?
• Which contemporary poet’s work has influenced your poem, and how? Think about tone, themes and style.
• Which historical poet’s work has influenced your poem, and how?
If the film is you performing a poem that inspires you:
• What is it about the poem that you like?
• How does the poem make you feel?
• What does it remind you of?
Ask a friend to interview you on camera, or film your answers to the questions you have jotted down.
Sharing your film
Now you have filmed your performance, interviewed yourself and found background information to help
introduce an audience to your work, it is time to share your poem.
If you don’t want to post your films online you can send them, along with a document of background information, to your intended audience.
Alternatively, you can upload your video to a video sharing service such as YouTube or Vimeo. You could use the video description or the ‘annotations’ function on YouTube to add your links, and include a link through to your filmed interview. Or you could embed the films on a website or blog and post your
supporting information there.
Make sure that you only send the film to people you want to see it, and, if you upload it online, ensure the film is set to ‘private’ unless you’re happy to make it public.
Pass the Poem
Try sharing your Page Fright video with a friend and asking them to write a poem or spoken word piece in response to yours. They could then produce their own Page Fright film and continue the chain.