Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Video production class weblog: Day 1, 2012

Still tired from a supremely unrestful Christmas-family-visiting driving tour of the midwest, I began teaching yet another two week video production class today with six students, a nice Sony Alpha camera with two external microphones, two new iMacs for editing, and cold sunny weather.

I am lucky to have two alumnae (who went on to major in film) assisting me this year at first.  The guy (who I will name W) cautioned my students at one point to not always trust my advice because I was clearly wrong about my recommendation for him to specify what exactly was his contraband substance smuggled in stuffed animals in his longer film.  We showed off one of his shorter pieces entitled "A Boy and his Bear, an existensial [sic] tale" which concerns a young man who grows excessively emotionally involved with a stuffed bear.  In order to prep the class for camera techniques, we watched Curtis Brownjohn's clever summary video.  We also viewed "Amy" from last year's class, a short about a woman who makes her imaginary friend jealous before killing her new boyfriend in an abandoned caboose.  After some screams in the dark, we later see her strangling the imaginary friend (in other words, air) at dusk with bloody hands in the movie's Fight Club-esque climax.

So, I don't know. Much of video production seems to me a matter of wrangling some semblance of pseudo-plausible acting as the editor wrestles with weird gaps and switches in the room tone. Can we get enough coverage?  Can we avoid another dull medium shot at eye level? Will the lighting equipment (bought at Lowe's and Hobby Lobby) work at all? Will the script's cliches overwhelm us next year?  Students have taken me inside of an igloo, to back alleys with melting snow and fake blood, to the basement of the town museum where black-robed figures fight with metal pipes, and to the woods around the lake where a real policeman kindly volunteered his time to interrogate a fictional murderer. All too often, I have stood in strange people's living rooms and wondered about our peculiarly passive protagonist as he ate popcorn and stared at the TV. The local townspeople are amazingly nice and supportive even when we stage a gunfight after a botched robbery in a jewelry store for hours as dusk falls. At one time, during exams, students made a movie where a jealous stalker killed a boyfriend with a baseball bat in front of the very same feed store where a real murder, a beating with an axe handle, took place in a couple years. Could they sense something in the air?

Regardless, we are having oddly cold weather in this otherwise balmy winter.  In order to practice shooting something, my new class jumped out of a fire window of the classroom to make "Escape of the Swaggernauts," a sketch which involved Star Wars credits at the beginning and the music from Mission Impossible. Tomorrow they plan on shooting an action film with a whip. Who knows?  This class may work out.

6 comments:

Ed Howard said...

Awesome, I always love these posts every year. Looking forward to hearing about what your students come up with this year.

Jason Bellamy said...

Me, too! Good luck!

Adam K said...

Just a few months ago I went on a marathon of previous years' production class posts. Looking forward to these.

FilmDr said...

Thanks, Ed, Jason, and Adam. I'll try to keep up with the posts, even though at present I would rather write something about Page One.

Just Call Me Alice said...

What made you choose Amy as a student film to show the class? I thought that other film produced by your students last year broke 4000 views on YouTube.

Araby said...

I really thought that Egg film was well done. Much better than any of their self-written films.