Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Film Camp Day 2—Going Technical

Sixteen high school students working in three teams are racing in an effort to finish their film projects by Friday at 2:00 p.m. Today’s challenge was to finish their script, complete their story boards and shot list, and be prepared to go into production on Wednesday morning.

We’ve thrown a lot at them in a short time. Camp coordinator Isaac Stambaugh summed it up best when he said, “It’s like getting one year’s work of film school in five days.” We billed this as a beginner’s camp, but in reality it resembles a combination of a beginners, intermediate, and advanced camp all rolled into one. We told our students we want you to be proud of what you complete this week. As a result, we are giving them all of the resources and information necessary to produce an outstanding film. Of course, they have to put in the effort and be willing to do the work.

Throughout the day, they were introduced to a lot of new terms, like white balance, B roll, 24 frame, depth of field, aperture, F-stop, iris, rule of thirds, the 180 rule, color correction, blocking, coverage—I think you get the point. Today was all about going technical. It’s important to understand the lingo, what it means, and how to apply it.

The morning started off with a workshop on script-to-screen. Now that the teams had their scripts in hand, how do they make them a reality that can play on the screen. It’s all about having a plan and being organized when you go out and shoot the movie.

The highlight of the day was a workshop from Russ Beckner on camera operation and cinematography. Russ is a veteran of the film and video industry. He now owns his own company and produces media for multiples organizations.

By this time, everybody wanted to get their hands on the equipment. For most of the class, it was their first opportunity working with professional grade gear. Russ took them through the entire process of how to use and operate the DVX-100 camera. They also learned how to properly set up the tripod and use boom mics to capture live audio. Russ also took them through all the essentials needed for proper framing and shot composition.

Camera classes are essentially a two-step process. First, you have to understand the technology and how to use it. But equally important is the artistic element which must be understood. It’s not just about pointing the camera at an object but learning how to tell an effective story through the camera lens.

The final class of the day came from Isaac Stambaugh as he talked about the principle of low-budget filmmaking. Isaac used his latest film, It Smells Like Community Spirit, as an example of what can be accomplished with little money but a whole lot of hard work and determination.

Each team spent the last hour making final preparations making calls to secure actors and locations, finding props and other logistical concerns. Within just two short days, they were on the road to becoming legitimate filmmakers.

Hannah, Elise and Caleb making a list and checking it twice

Madeline and Jesse going over the game plan

Jarrett putting on his producer's hat

Russ doing his thing

Elise working out the final details

Edie and Chelsea checking out the camera

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