8 short films conceived, storyboarded, filmed, acted, edited, and produced by the students in Quynh’s class. Developing film and media literacy skills as well as careful digital storytelling practices, the students worked with Teaching Artist Elizabeth, Quynh, and a new set of iPads to develop their own short films for a week in April.
We began the week reviewing Teaching Artist Elizabeth’s work in film, and how she creates stories. Using the larger theme of identity, Elizabeth shared stories from her life, travels, and experiences and then students watched her films.
Students begin to storyboard their stories, turning the story concept or idea into a sequence of visual or actionable events, drawing on previous literacy skills to translate into a visual medium.
Most of the story development time was spent thinking about how to show stories rather than tell them. This is an important step in developing film literacy and critical thinking skills to process all types of media.
Students spent time outside exploring the capabilities of their camera. Thinking about shot size, angles, and camera movement furthered their understanding of what cameras can show us, and how students have their own agency in creating stories, photos, and videos. Students were familiarized with Lake and Park's new iPad's, and found great ways to utilize this new technology.
Students enjoyed reviewing test footage to find new angles and ways of showing their stories.
A major development occurred with the concept of “b-roll”, or footage that doesn’t have the direct action of the story in the shot. Students explored different, meaningful visuals to try to tell stories in complex ways.
Although each student was in charge of their own project, collaboration happened both inside and out, assisting each other with ideas, complicated shots, acting, and editing support.
Many hours were spent in the “cutting room”: reviewing footage, choosing the most important shots, and piecing together the project to give it the mood and pace that matched their story.
Each student shared their process with the rest of the class, giving each other positive feedback, critical support, and creative ideas along the way. Students worked on self-editing by presenting rough-cuts mid-week and setting goals and notes for improving the clarity of the films.
To complete the process, students thought about music that was meaningful to themselves and their films to use for scoring. Scores from Star Wars, The Lord of The Rings, and Game of Thrones, are some examples of what students used to add a cinematic mood to their films. Taylor Swift, Macklemore, and Shakira added upbeat pop sounds to enforce exciting and powerful stories students told.
During our showing in the classroom, students wrote Artist Statements telling us why they made the story they made, resulting in a final critical reflection on their own creative work.
The short films will be shown later this spring at Lake and Park, giving the students an opportunity to speak for their own films and engage presently with an active audience, and spend some time honoring their hard work.