Macy Moreno & Zarena Zaidi on Teaching Children about the Magic of Filmmaking

August 30, 2023

This summer, the School of Communication collaborated with Burnaby School District (SD41) to host a course titled Cinema & Storytelling. During the week of July 24th, elementary school students in grades 5-7 attended classes at SFU Burnaby and used CMNS film equipment to learn about the magic of filmmaking. SD41 teacher Brian Yu ran the course with the help of student program coordinators Macy Moreno and Zarena Zaidi. The course also received support from School of Communication staff members Brian Langdeau and Alex Klinke.

We connected with Macy Moreno and Zarena Zaidi to learn about their experience as student program coordinators.

1. What led you to participate in this summer course collaboration with the Burnaby School District?

Macy: I previously participated in this course last summer and had a great experience which led me to return this year! I have a background in filmmaking and have had opportunities to teach in the past, so I wanted to try sharing my knowledge and passions with kids who may not have been exposed to the world of filmmaking yet.

Zarena: My interest in the summer course was originally due to the topic, as cinema and storytelling is something that I find aligns with my interests and my degree. I believed working with children would allow me to gain a new perspective into why this genre is so captivating.

2. What has been your favourite part of helping with this program?

M: My favourite part of helping with this program was being able to learn from the students and help turn their interests into documented work. Seeing and understanding the stories they wanted to tell, and the values and opinions they hold at their age is super fascinating!

Z: I think that I have to say the kids are the best part. They are so multi-layered and come with great observations that I would have never considered. Also, they are such a funny and creative group that truly just want to have someone listen to them.

3. What have you learned from helping with this program?

M: One of the most valuable skills I’ve learned from this program is patience. Kids can be a handful to work with at times, but learning to be patient and support their different learning styles and needs helped me lead them to produce work and develop skills they are proud of.

Z: I learned a lot about this new generation and the things that influence them. I think that I also improved my patience, especially when it comes to understanding the needs of children. Overall, I learned to be more compassionate and deepened my love for teaching.

4. Why do you think this summer school program is important?

M: I think programs like these are extremely important. They create an opportunity for younger children to express themselves creatively in positive and uplifting environments. It also encourages kids to explore new mediums of media creation, and equips them with great skills that can be built upon in their high school years!

Z: I think that giving children the opportunity to learn in a university environment is vital to expanding their knowledge of life opportunities. I got so many questions about what life is like in university, and it allowed them to see for themselves what they may like to explore in the future. I think that it also gave me the opportunity to see if I enjoy my own chosen profession.

5. Do you have a wholesome or funny memory from the course?

M: The most wholesome memory I remember would be showing each other what jewelry the students wore every day. They would share which pieces they made or where certain pieces came from! It was super fun to chat about fashion and style and see how different kids liked to express themselves through their clothing and accessories. It was so cute when they wanted to braid my hair too!

Z: My most memorable moments were definitely break times when we played with bubbles and ran around singing Disney songs. I also really enjoyed working with the students on their short film projects. They had such creative ideas; it was amazing to see their ideas develop from a storyboard to a full movie in just over a week! During the final screening day, I was very impressed and proud of my students. It was a great feeling.

6. Is there anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked about?

M: Making filmmaking more accessible to different groups of people of varying ages and backgrounds is one of the most important things to me. Programs like this really encourage and spread that value!

Z: Yes! Alongside this program, I worked on another SFU Summer Course Collaboration with Burnaby School District on a course about Digital Activism. This experience was transformative and allowed me to learn more about myself as a student and a teacher. It was really cool to see how different the two age groups were. Overall, I had an amazing summer because of these course collaborations, and I hope to do them again!