Kindergarten Shuffle, one of the most painfully realistic (and I mean that in a very, very good way) movies ever filmed about the NYC school admissions process premieres tonight. (Click here for details on time and place.)
I strongly recommend that everyone preparing to go through the process - or who has been through the process and wants to cringe in shock at how universal the experience seems to be - try to catch the film either in the theater or on DVD.
In the meantime, please enjoy Part #1 of our interview with writer/director Douglas Morse, below:
NY Gifted Education Examiner: How and why did you decide to dramatize your own experience with the NYC school system, especially how it pertains to educating children who have tested gifted?
Doug Morse: I was shocked at how difficult and confusing the kindergarten admissions process was. I thought the subject would make a fascinating and dramatic film. A docudrama mixing actors, non-actors, real and recreated situations was simply the best way to tell that story. Originally, my wife and I were looking for a progressive school and then we came to realize our son not only tested extremely well, but would benefit from accelerated education. Gifted Education is not usually explored in films and as we researched the subject, the more I became convinced it needed to be.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: The movie seems to be a mixture of documentary and recreated scenes. How did you get permission (did you get permission?) for the scenes that appear to be shot at real schools? What were the schools' reactions to your project?
Doug Morse: We filmed at public schools on public tours (but without showing close-ups of children). Once there, we let the principals and parent coordinators know what our project was about. Any scene where you see a close-up of a child, such as the home-school cooperative, NYSFA playdate, or the Beit Rabban tour, we arranged permission in advance and coordinated with educators and parents.
NY Gifted Education Examiner: Some scenes, like a school playdate and the Hunter test had to be recreated. What did you base them on, since parents are not allowed inside?
Doug Morse: The Hunter test was shot at a tutoring agency, Another Young Scholar. Since I have never seen the Stanford Binet test, I hope it is similar enough. The playdate was recreated at my son’s pre-school school, Medical Center Nursery School in Washington Heights. I asked our former pre-school director and he graciously agreed. Most importantly, the pre-school teacher agreed to help us out and she accurately showed how the children are encouraged to play, draw, create narrative, and answer questions about the story. It’s one of the more sophisticated things a child can do. The children, and their parents, are friends from the neighborhood.
Stay tuned for more from Douglas Morse in the coming week. Kindergarten Shuffle is also available for private screenings. Bookings can be coordinated through Kara Smith at Karasma Media Public Relations & Publicity, firstname.lastname@example.org
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