Month: November 2013

Film Hub – The Horror, the Horror.


My experience of shooting films has led me to believe one simple truth, there are no individuals, there are only teams, united by a common goal of creating something, it doesn’t matter if you are writer, director, sparks, clapper or runner, everyone has a place on set and must do it with conviction as it is that, the coming together of people that enables everyone to leave with a finished project.

My first class was nothing if not disastrous, I had never taught a class before let alone a class full of kids so while I was trying my best to be all business they were slowly breaking me down with chatter, questions and stories. We discussed films and as the class went on I realized that these guys were just like me when I was young, a love of movies and an interest to learn how it all works.

As the classes went by things became way less formal, I got to know these kids, they would tell me about their plans for the future and we would talk about different films we’d seen each week all the while honing down our plans for our short film.

It was coming up to Halloween and it seemed only right to do a horror film. I had talked briefly about the limitations of what we could achieve and thankfully they all got it immediately, what we had was an old building and day-lights savings hour deficit. The Hub has an incredible look and feel and for the most part the building seems warm and inviting, given to the fact that so many great activities take place here throughout the weeks but film can be an incredibly deceptive art form, and with different angles and a hint of movie magic colour grading we could turn our vibrant Hub into a horrific house of horrors.


I scripted the piece based on informal discussions in class about what the film should be about, thankfully horror is a relatively easy thing to pull off, suspense and fear can be built on nothing more than sound and implication. Once everything was scripted we had a read through to make sure everyone was happy with the product, then we storyboarded everything and had a good long class on production process.

Everyone got a chance to play their part on the various roles of crew, and some people excelled in their interest, I can honestly say that Cheyenne Brennan could easily make a name for herself as an assistant director, John McAllen too struck me as someone with a keen interest in camera operation asking all the right questions and Mark Kennedy was particularly adept at building tension throughout scripting and storyboarding.


Finally it came time to shoot and it was an arduous process to say the least, a classroom setting gives people a sense of place and while people can have fun and joke about in class it is a much more difficult thing to control a class outside especially when we are MAKING MOVIES!, I still get excited whenever I walk onto a set and know that all that planning finally brings us into the fun part. While come guys were happy to watch intently or be directly involved others would rather mess and run around, we were outside after all but once the crew calls and the line “QUIET ON SET PLEASE!” was roared by Cheyenne everyone adhered to my first paragraph, we were a team, a team with a mission to produce a short film in a small space of time, silence held their attention and filming began.


For 4 days we toiled over shot lists and camera angles and at the end of it all we were all a little bit tired but excited, the film was in the proverbial can and all we had to do now was edit, a process which took time and care. As stated above horror films can be easy enough to shoot but the magic really happens in editing where sound plays a major factor. I edited as I went so as to get a clearer picture of what was needed for the following shoot but the sound edit had to be left for last and this took the bones of a week to produce, once finished I showed the product to some a colleague Aaron, who also has formal training in film production, and after some minor tweeks everyone seemed very happy with the end product but my real fear came from what the kids would think. This was, after all, all for them, if I had not satisfied their appetites it would all be for nothing.


As the night of the screening approached I was as nervous as my first class, I had a brief chat with everyone to see if anything needed changing for future classes but they were all happy with how things went, they boosted my confidence by telling me how much fun they had had over the past 6 weeks and interest in filming had not let up.


As the parents came in to view the screening I gave a small introduction to the room and thanked everyone involved, it surprised me at how much I had grown fond of these kids, it was not something I had anticipated primarily through nerves but as the weeks went by we got to know each other, we enjoyed each other’s company and they taught me as much as I taught them. These kids were the real champions, in the end they formulated a great short film and taught me that kids are nothing to be afraid of, they are enthusiastic young adults who sometimes get overly excited with prospects and ambition… nothing that I cannot say I am guilty of too from time to time. 

Cian Hennigar.

There is a Happy Land

A Learning Hub Limerick Production


Electrifying fun at the Science Hub!

Science Hub logo

Learning Hub’s scientist Seán O’Brien coordinates all the activities here at the Science Hub.

Seán O'Brien

Our fantastic scientist Seán! 😀 Always greeting us with a friendly face!

Every Wednesday morning local schools visit the hub to participate in either Story Hub or Science hub. The 4th class students eagerly bundle into the science hub. Seán initiates the lesson by asking the students to name all the different forms of energy they know. He continues by demonstrating several brilliant experiments that deal with chemical energy. The students watch on with excitement dancing in their eyes.



Us co-op students step in and guide the children through a series of fun experiments that they participate in. They each fill out a worksheet which they get to take back to school with them.


The students love the colour changing potions, explosions, implosions, fire and Seáns many tricks! There’s often a few screams, shouts and plenty of laughter and enjoyment by all! Don’t worry, no-one ever gets hurt. 🙂

Last week at the Science Hub students showed us how to do two experiments.

  1. Potato battery experiment 
  2. Electro magnet experiment

Below is the Potato Battery Experiment

Don’t forget to Subscribe to the Science Hub’s Youtube channel for tutorials on lots of experiments! We will be updating it constantly with new content so you’ll have lots of impressive videos to enjoy! Click >HERE< to go to the Science Hub’s videos on Youtube! 😀

Secondary School Creative Writing & Beyond

Second level creative writing ideas

A few activities for a creative writing workshop with secondary students, but also relevant for anyone who wants to make a start in writing.

Crazy Lyrical Dialogue

  •  Select a song randomly, preferably one you’ve never heard or one to which you don’t know the lyrics. Print out the lyrics.
  • Go through the song and select a lyric (line or sentence) you find interesting, one that stands out.
  • Repeat this process twice more, selecting two more songs and two more lyrics.
  • Then, start a conversation with the first lyric you selected between two people very unlikely to use the phrase. For instance,  “Won’t you take me, to funky town” Aunt Ida asked Bernie, sitting two wheelchairs away in Serenity Meadows Assisted Living Centre.”
  • Once you get the conversation going, insert the other two lyrics elsewhere, shifting the dialogue to make sure the conversation between the two characters makes sense. Continue until you can end the conversation definitively, with a resolution that meets the needs of one of the characters.
  •  Students can complete the first part of the assignment themselves, then exchange lyrics with people next to them and work from there.adapted from:

Writing for the Screen

 The main goal is to differentiate between writing that is to be read, and writing that is to be seen. Think about how we show characters thoughts, feelings and attitudes. Our characters can’t always say these things aloud, that’s called exposition and it’s generally frowned upon.

An interesting and useful activity could be based on writing actions.

Decide on some actions, students can write out directions for them and then act them out as they appear on the page or screen. Think about the following actions, how do you show them through the character without them saying anything? How do you write out the appropriate directions/expressions for the actor? The students, of course can come up with their own actions and give each other the challenge to write and act the directions, but these might help to get started.

  • “I have to go to the toilet”
  • “My friends are in an serious argument, this makes me uncomfortable.”
  • “They don’t realise it was me who just farted.”
  • “I don’t love him/her anymore.”
  • “why hasn’t my friend come back from checking that weird noise outside?”
  • “I think I’m going to be sick.”
  • “I have no idea who this person talking to me is, how do they know my name?”
  • “I don’t want to be here, I wish I was at home in bed.”
  • “I forgot to do the assignment”.
  • And so on………

“Free Writing”

Spend five minutes writing down whatever comes into your head. Just keep the writing flow going as smoothly and uninterruptedly as possible. Once the five minutes is up, try identifying the theme of your writing and develop it into a coherent piece.

  • Write a story of exactly 100 words, no more, no less. Then cut the story down to 50 words. Can you do it in 25? 6?
  • Write a scene in dialogue-only first, then go back and fill in the action – but only where it’s necessary to understand what’s going on.


Another useful  activity to get started is simply writing down words, any words at all, the first words that come into your head, use a board or large poster page and try to fill it with words. Next try to form the words into some kind of story, try to give them some order. The key point with free writing is, to just write. Remember:  “There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write”. – Terry Pratchett

Prompts: How to get started:

If there is any difficulty finding a start off point there are plenty of books, apps, quotes and such to read. Write a short creative piece using the word of the day from a dictionary as a prompt and base the story around it, even just write a sentence containing the word and see if you can go from there. My own dictionary gave me phantasmagorical as a word of the day, what a beautiful and inspiring word! Twitter, Tumbler, Facebook and WordPress all have a multitude of writing prompt accounts. There’s also the option to google writing prompts and see what comes up. I found these gems:



Going along the lines of free writing, images can serve as a good prompt for original creative writing. Display an image and give a time limit to the writers. Students should write quickly whatever comes to mind, then set aside another bit of time to construct a part of a story. Emphasise the openness of the activity; whatever comes to mind, what story comes to life, what is their personal response to the image, their initial response, what story do they imagine? Focus on the first thing that comes to mind, take away the pressure of ‘will it be good’, ‘is it right/wrong?’, ‘what should I write’….just write. It doesn’t have to necessarily be related to the image, just inspired by.

Some of my favourite and inspiring images:



More interesting images:





The-Incredible-Hulk-liv-tyler-1756786-1275-540 EPYTXoX xxx2TY8

Finish the scene/story

Another activity that can be useful is to play a short clip from a Film/Tv series and get students to write and possibly act out the rest of the scene, maybe stop the clip at some sort of cliffhanger if possible. Again students should be encouraged to write their own way and be reminded not to worry about what is right or wrong. It is probably best to find clips that the students haven’t seen, but that isn’t essential. The possibilities are endless here, but here are some examples from the Marx Brothers to get started…

These are just a few ideas to get started, I’m always gathering tips, ideas and resources for creative writing so I’ll be updating again for sure, I’m hoping to take away the apprehension and show creative writing as the challenging, enjoyable and rewarding activity that it is.

Write on…


Story Hub

Halloween Camp ’13

Last week, from Tuesday to Thursday, Learning Hub Limerick hosted its annual Halloween camp. The camp was organised and run by our amazing co-op students from UL and LIT, who did a wonderful job!

There was a range of fun activities over the course of the week, including; a science magic show, pumpkin carving, costume making, face painting, cooking, filming. Then on the last day we had our haunted house which we concluded was VERY SCARY!



The camp began on Tuesday with a science magic show where the kids got to witness our magnificent magician Sean at work! He performed a variety of tricks which Harry Potter himself couldn’t master! 

The kids then demonstrated their artistic side when they got the chance to design and carve their very own pumpkins. 

We employed ‘master chefs’ to come in for the day to help us cook delicious chocolate apples and rice krispie buns, decorated halloween shtyle 😉 oh and a jelly brain.  it was very wobbly, haha.



On our second day of camp the children got the chance to get their faces painted like zombies and other spooky creatures! It was a frightful morning!


They also got creative in the art hub and used a wide variety of materials to create their Halloween costumes. 

After a long fun morning of creativity they got to take part in making their own movie trailers as part of film hub.



On Thursday, we held our annual haunted house in the basement here at the Hub. This year, it was more scary than ever before! Perhaps a bit too scary!

The kids were guided through the haunted house by some of our learning buddies, while the others waited in darkness to terrify the kids. :O

There was a lot of shouting and screaming, running and general mayhem. There were even a few tears! There was also a lot of laughing so it’s ok :).

At the end of the day, we had a little party to finish off the camp. There was lots of music, dancing, sweets and prizes, and everybody got a goodie bag to bring home at the end. 

Overall, the camp was a huge success! The kids really enjoyed themselves and so did our co-op students and everybody who helped out. The standard has been set for next years camp. Lets hope the next group of students are up to the task!