by John Marshall
color, 58 min, 1975
In the summer of 1975 John Marshall and Roger Hart documented the outdoor play activities of the children in a small Vermont town. Roger had just completed his dissertation from Clark University on the geography of children. John's 13 hours of 16mm footage comprised part of his detailed research on children's outdoor lives, studying the role of play in children's psychological development as well as its relationship to their understanding of nature and their surroundings. The long takes of children completely absorbed in their own private worlds provide a rare document of the complexity, creativity, and spontaneity of children at play.
A year after shooting, Roger received an invitation from the BBC to make a film on children's creative activity outdoors. John's footage of the children's imaginative play constituted more than half of the program Play and Place: Transforming Environments produced for the Open University division of the BBC. On the day of broadcast it was selected as the "Pick of the Day" by The London Times, and the director of the BBC called the film's producer from his vacation to congratulate him on the remarkably moving footage of children's free play.
Several short films were edited later but never released. DER is proud to present on DVD these four films - Playing House, In the Dirt, Treehouse, and Sandbank - cinema verité shorts without narration or text.