Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Production in Action

I am going to let the pictures tell the story today. The words below are from an incoming student. It is pretty straight forward. A film is being made. Students are watching. The dumb filmmaker is teaching, the dumb filmmaker and his partner, Jim are shooting the making of documentary.


Today I observed the production of The Collector. I witnessed firsthand the massive amount of coordination that it takes to create just a five minute short film. To my surprise, at least 25 people had their hands on this project. Perhaps even more astonishing, was the fact that this one week of shooting was preceded by three weeks of pre-production work and will be followed by another three weeks of post-production editing, computer graphics, sound editing, etc. Two months of dedicated labor for a five minute picture! It was just my first day of observing on set and I feel like I have already captured a great understanding of what takes place behind the scenes. Everyone specializes in a single aspect of the production and eventually all of their individual efforts will seamlessly tie together into a single work of art. I really look forward to seeing the final product!

Gabe Anello

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Teaching Again

Today, for the first time since May, I get to teach. Eight incoming Flashpoint students have agreed to be my guinea pigs for the next four afternoons and they will be coming to the set and I will be breaking down, then building up this film I described in yesterday's post.

I often joke that I make it up as I go along as a teacher, that I have no plan and I just go with the flow. It might even appear that way, but my approach is to try to be so prepared that I can deviate- ad lib if you will- from the plan to explore other options. I think of it as a trial lawyer asking questions in court. The lawyer asks the witness question, knowing the answer. You never ask something - to a witness or a student- if you don't know how they will respond. The only way to do that is to be prepared.

The plan for the students is this. Today will be orientation. I will have them read the script and see the storyboards. Introduce them to the crew and give them an overview of the crew positions. Then we will go deeper. I will show them the script with the director's marginalia, call sheets and more and more detail. We will watch a few scenes being shot and then have time with the crew to do some direct q & a. At some point (since we have to be dead silent when they are rolling) I will have them shadow specific crew members and report back to me as to what they think they do. By the end of the week, in theory, they will have a better understanding of all the small details that go into making a film.

Just a side note to finish. When I walked on the set yesterday, I was surprised to see about 1/3 of the crew are former students of mine. That made me feel good, even better when they were quick to tease me about "teaching" (air quotes here) these incoming students. Karl, the sound man, was my teaching assistant for two semesters and was quick to joke that he (as he did as my t.a.) could teach them more than me. I take it as a good sign that so many of these students are working professionals and were happy to see me after as much as five or six years.


Monday, August 6, 2007

Wearing a Lot of Hats

I am wearing a lot of different hats this week. Paula Froehle, the Flashpoint Dean, is shooting a short film and Jim and I are shooting a "making of..." documentary to be used as a teaching tool. We have shot off and on for the last couple of weeks as Paula and her crew have been in pre-production. This week it is all production.

Paula's film, The Collector- based on a short story by Jonathan Lethem, will be finished by September 17- the first day of classes. The Collector and our "making of..." companion piece will be screened on that first day of class to illustrate the collaborative nature of all four Flashpoint disciplines. There is a lot of work ahead of us.

Jim and I are shooting with the same gear as my students will use, so not only do I get a practical lesson on workflow and the ins and outs of this new (HD) technology, but this process will make me a better teacher. You can never stop learning. So far I have really liked what we have shot. The future is here.

Additionally, Tuesday through Friday afternoons this week, I will have eight incoming Flashpoint students on the set and I will be teaching them "production in action." As Paula shoots, I will be working these students in with her key crew. I will be able to literally stop the production and have these students ask questions and really mix with professional filmmakers. We are using this experience as a dry run for a larger Production in Action class Flashpoint students will take in January. I will keep you posted on developments.