A great way to get students familiar with the key events of a historical person’s life and consider concepts of significance.

Stage 1: Start by outlining the central task 

  • You are a Hollywood director producing a film about [person / topic].
  • You will produce a poster advertising your film, including:
    • – A dramatic title for the film
    • – 4 “Screenshots” from the film depicting the key events
    • Captions under each screenshot describing the events
    • – A cast list
    • – Some quotes from the film reviewers!
    • – Some ‘tie-in’ merchandise relevant to the topic

Provide students with a timeline of events. Read it through as a class then each student circles off four events that they think will work particularly well on the cinema screen. The example shown here comes from my Unit on Martin Luther at www.activehistory.co.uk.

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Stage 2: Completing the movie proposal form

The students are then provided with the Hollywood Film Poster: Proposal Form, which guides them through the following questions:

  • What will be the title / strapline of your film? (decide whether you want to depict the main character as a hero or a villain. Discuss as a class first some famous film titles).
  • What 4 events will you choose to focus on? (aim for different moods: drama, suspense, humour, violence, romance…)
  • Choose 5 people from the timeline: Which famous actors would you use to play each of these characters?
  • What sorts of reviews would you include?
  • What sort of merchandise could you advertise as a ‘tie-in’ promotion?

Stage 3 [optional]: Developing the cast list

Provide the students with a copy of a PowerPoint template with the main characters listed in it, and space for them to put alongside their choice of actors. From my experience this works well as a homework exercise and they always have great fun sharing these ideas afterwards:

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Stage 4: Producing the poster

At this stage the students are ready to produce the poster using the Mark Scheme Template.

Taking it further

Some students might want to create an actual movie trailer rather than a poster (see the example above!)


Hollywood Film Poster: Proposal Form

Hollywood Film Poster: Mark Scheme