Project Based Learning- Disney Movie Pitch Project
I have had a lot of inquiries about my Disney movie pitch project over the years and today I am diving deep into the details! Since teaching is a second career for me, I love bringing real world project based learning to my students. With this project, they get to see how all of the skills we have been working on all year can come together in one cohesive project.
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Now, let’s get started with those details!
The Scenario- Coming Up With The Disney Movie Idea
First, students work in groups to discuss and brainstorm a culture that they feel has not been represented or has not been represented well by Disney. I usually ask them to try and make a list of three while they are just talking and then start looking online to double-check their list.
Sometimes you have to help them really think about it. For example, many students automatically say that Africa is off the table because of The Lion King. I challenge them on this by pointing out that Africa is a large continent with many cultures and while it is set in Africa, they are not really showcasing any African culture in the movie.
I recently read this article in which the creators of Raya and the Last Dragon were interviewed and they actually talked about this very thing! I highly recommend sharing with students to show that this truly is a real world scenario and it’s not crazy to think that they could have a job like this one day!
The Job Roles
After they have settled on their culture, they decide on their job roles. There are five:
The Storyteller: Writes out the story the team comes up with
The Researcher: Researches the culture and marketing needs
The Artist: Comes up with all the concept art for the pitch and makes the storyboard
The Film Producer: Creates teaser trailer and movie poster
The Project Manager: Manages the team and gives the actual sales pitch
I have them submit their project proposal of who is doing what job, which culture they have settled on, and a description as to why.
After students have decided on a culture and who is doing what, they start researching. What stories are wildly popular? Why? Would they translate well onto a global platform with some tweaks? What might those tweaks be?
Some of my more imaginative groups in the past have asked to start from scratch and not base their movie pitch on any one story. I also love this! They just have to work a little harder as far as research goes because they have to include customs, locations, names, etc. that are specific to the culture.
Once they have decided on the culture and the story; the real magic begins! Groups work together while also working on their individual responsibilities for the group. Project managers, check in with each group member and upper management (me) on a regular basis. I try to have at least one private one-on-one with the project managers each week while also circulating the room as students work in groups.
While students work on this project over the course of a few weeks, we also refresh on persuasive concepts they will be needing once the sales pitch comes. For example, when we talk about audience and purpose. In this case, you are talking about several audiences. 1) the kids who will (hopefully) be watching your movie 2) the parents of kids who are interested in taking their kids to the movies 3) the Disney executives who will say YES or PASS.
That last one is going to want to make money. So, students need to make a solid sales pitch that shows not only that this will be a movie they will make money off with ticket sales, but also merchandizing!
Now, like I said, this is a second career for me. So, I like to take it to the next level with my high schoolers and bring in the true experts to judge their work. I reach out to business sponsors, parents, and everywhere else I can for any professionals to come in and judge the presentations. I ask for those that are in marketing, finance, and related fields first and then fill in as needed.
Bringing in outsiders suddenly makes it real to my students. It’s not “just something for the teacher” now. Real professionals in this field are critiquing, judging, and giving feedback.
This project has been wildly successful in my classroom and I hope that it inspires you as well! If you are interested in trying this out in your own classroom and would like some materials to start today, check out my store here. I would love to hear how this goes in your classroom! Please feel free to connect with me on Instagram and tag me in some photos.
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