The school that set its sights on Hollywood

In the spotlight: The Guardian’s review called the film “a seriously impressive achievement”.

Can we all achieve our dreams? Today sees the premiere of a full-length film made by a London state school that will be streamed all over the world – making stars of its teenage actors.

“I’ve seen unbelievable things. The dazzling antimatter fountains of Caiclos; gravity beams blazing from the dying Eta Carinae; beings with their bums where their mouths should be. But I’ve never had more fun than that day in a place called Tooting on a planet called Earth. That was where I met the strangest life form I’ve ever met in any dimension – teenagers.”

These are the opening lines of 7 Hours On Earth, an inventive film whose plot is borrowed from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It was made by the community of Graveney School in south London – teachers, pupils, ex-students, parents, even pets.

In Shakespeare’s play, lovers are manipulated by fairies with hilarious consequences.

Transposing the action to Tooting, this film has the humans’ lives directed by aliens, who crash land in the headmaster’s study. They are puzzled most by teenage love, and create an app to make everyone happier in their relationships – but it only makes things worse.

The film was organised by teacher Patricia Sharpe. She used crowdfunding and called on acquaintances with film experience for help. The technical crew consisted mainly of media students from year 10 upwards; the special effects were designed by an ex-pupil.

Can we all achieve our dreams?

Ambition ignition

Some say, yes. The singer and actress Markéta Irglová was almost unknown before she appeared in the independent film Once but won an Oscar for the song Falling Slowly. It was, she said, “proof that no matter how far out your dreams are, it’s possible”.

Others argue that we should be careful what we dream about. Many people imagine themselves winning a World Cup final, but unless you are brilliant at football, it won't happen. It is good to aim high, but useful to realise you will not get everything you want.

You Decide

  1. What is your life’s ambition, and how confident are you of achieving it?


  1. Is there a film you would like to be in? Write one side of paper about the role you would like to play.

Some People Say...

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

Paul Coelho, Brazilian novelist

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
It is generally agreed that there are two ways to present Shakespeare’s plays to make them more appealing to today’s audiences. One is to change the time or place the play is set in. The other is to cast the roles in an untraditional way – for example, by having a black actor play a white king, or a female actor play Hamlet. Directors argue that this helps people see the play with fresh eyes; critics, though, often dismiss it as a gimmicky way to get a production discussed.
What do we not know?
One main area of debate is around whether we need to suffer in order to realise our dreams. Some believe that we can only achieve success by relentless effort, working long hours that leave us little time to enjoy ourselves. But psychologist Emma Seppälä maintains that this is counterproductive and tends to result in burnout. She argues that taking time to relax and look after others is much more productive, making you more energetic and creative.

Word Watch

According to physicists, the particles that make up matter are mirrored by antiparticles thaf have the same mass but opposite electric charge. If they collide, both are destroyed.
Eta Carinae
A star system in the constellation Carina. It is more than five million times brighter than the Sun.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
One of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, written in 1595–96. It has also inspired music by Felix Mendelssohn and ballets by George Balanchine and Frederick Ashton.
Made for the tiny (in cinema terms) sum of £100,000, Once is the story of two struggling musicians set in Dublin.
Moves. In music, transposing means performing a piece in a key different from the one it was written in.
Its high street is built on what was once a Roman road running from London to Chichester. In Norman times it was owned by the De Gravenel family and known as Tooting Graveney.

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