Island School: CELEBRATING 50 YEARS

A Documentary by Sean Francis Ellis

Between 1986 and 1990, I attended Island School in Hong Kong - a secondary school first opened by the English Schools Foundation in 1967.  This unique institution has provided a world-class education to thousands of foreign and local students, throughout fifty years of rapid growth and cultural change in Hong Kong.  

Why make a film about the school?

For Island School, 2017 was the end of an era, and the start of an exciting new one.  To mark the 50th Anniversary of the school, I decided to make a documentary film, celebrating the first 50 years of the school, and telling the story of the people who call themselves "Islanders". 

As a former student, I was sad to learn that the old school buildings would be demolished, but also inspired by designs for the new building that would replace it.  I felt a need to document the existing buildings before they were gone forever, and tell the remarkable story of the school.  A film is the ideal way to capture the spirit of Island School, and make an inspiring tribute.

Following a timeline from the school’s foundation, the film will take viewers on a nostalgic journey into the past, with music and images from each decade.  Focusing on staff, students, events, achievements, and the future of the school, the film will culminate with the anniversary celebrations, which attracted hundreds of Islanders to Hong Kong from around the world.  

Five segments, each covering a decade, will be released as individual downloads as they are completed. The first segment, covering 1967 to 1977, is now available. The completed film will be released on DVD & Blu-ray disc in the coming months.

Filming in Hong Kong - June 2017

While attending the 50th anniversary celebrations, I filmed interviews with current and former staff and students.  Their personal recollections will tell the history of the school, and provide voice-over for hundreds of images, many featured in Chris Forse’s 2007 book, “No Ordinary School”.

New video of the school will be combined with archival images and video - showing life inside and outside the classroom - evoking fond memories and revealing what makes the school so special to Islanders. 

In addition, a comprehensive video record of all the school buildings (in Spherical Video) has been made.  Old and new alumni will be able to experience the school environment using this immersive technology for years to come:

Select the highest HD setting (1080p) for best quality. Click on the image and drag to move around. To view in Spherical VR/360, you must view on a laptop or desktop computer, unless you have a VR App installed on your phone. Apple's Safari browser is not compatible with VR, so try Google Chrome or Firefox.

How long will the film be? 

Each segment will be up to one hour, and released individually as Digital Downloads (in 4K Ultra-HD). All five segments will be released as a DVD/Blu-ray (HD) in a few months. Sales of the film will help cover the costs of post-production.  Editing is being completed in Sydney, Australia. 

Production Time-Line 

The documentary has involved over two years of work, with the cooperation of many people, including alumni of the school.  I was able to raise funds to cover the costs of renting cameras, sound and lighting equipment, through the crowd-funding website Indiegogo: https://igg.me/at/IslandSchool50/x

The film is an ideal way to remember your time at the school and share it with family and friends, while celebrating the unique legacy of Island School at 50.

Click “SHOP” to order your copy!

Sean Francis Ellis - Cinebrand Productions - 2019