High Speed Film Making

We had a pretty interesting staff development team meeting on Wednesday. We met Lucas Krost the director of a local film company who’d won the 48 Hour Film Festival1 and had their film screened at Cannes.

So we spoke to him for a while. Lucas wasn’t a fan of school (if I recall correctly he was thrown out of five high schools). He told the story of how he eventually found editing and film work. It was a good story but nothing you haven’t heard in variations a number of other times. What was interesting was hearing how this group communicated and worked together to make a film in only 48 hours.

So here’s what we did following the conversation. We drew a genre from a hat and got our topic- 21st Century Skills. We then had 48 minutes to write our scripts and 48 minutes to film and edit. My group of 6 drew cop/detective for genre. The hardest part for us was coming up with the idea which took pretty much the whole 48 minutes due to differing ideas as to how to attack the project. We never wrote a script so all the dialogue is freestyle2 We then shot the thing in about 25 minutes leaving a grand 23 minutes for editing. It took a frustratingly long time to import the clips from the flip video camera. I first tried editing in Final Cut but the AVI playback sucked horribly. I didn’t have time to trouble shoot it so I moved to iMovie 7 which didn’t like them either. Starting to get frustrated I moved to iMovie HD which thankfully worked but all this switching ate up a lot of time3. Now the clips had to import, some speed editing and with a little fudge time during lunch we had our two minute movie which you can see below4

So what’s the point of doing this? Well the proof is in the doing and so is the ability to speak from experience.

Things Worth Knowing

  • Making a movie doesn’t have to be a multi-hour, huge ordeal– it’s doable in two or three classes if you adjust your goals and expectations. In a lot of cases, it’s more about the process of re-assimilating the information than in creating the final product anyway.
  • Restrictions help focus and drive creativity– I’ve said this before but some basic restrictions regarding length, genre, topic etc. really help focus teams and get them focusing on what’s really important.
  • Working in groups is hard– even for adults (or maybe especially). It’s no wonder most of the group work in schools fails. We throw kids into groups with little idea and less guidance on how to collaborate on projects like these. Working up to major group projects with smaller projects is a good idea. I’d keep the same teams. That gives students a chance to get used to personalities and roles as well as time for you to reassess groups or rearrange them if necessary.
  • Video is difficult– it might make sense to start with something easier. Think about it. Video requires you to think in terms of plot, dialogue, camera angles, music and a lot more. That’s a lot for a first project. I think building up to the video project with different projects that focus on specific aspects5 makes sense.

1 Each team draws a genre (science fiction, horror, comedy, etc.), a line of dialogue and a prop. Then they have 48 hours to write, shoot and edit their film.

2 Which explains, at least in part, why I’m a rambling fool.

3 the kind of thing you need to test out first to prevent unhappy surprises with your students

4 It is what it is. I include it mainly to break up all this text 🙂

5 I’m thinking you attack visuals first with a simple presentation. Really get into how images reinforce ideas. Audio with sound effects can be done in another project etc. etc. By the time they get to the final project with video they’ll have experience with all the components and putting them together will be a challenge but not the challenge learning all of them at once and putting them together would be.

Comments on this post

  1. Ben said on October 30, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    OMG! Just what I needed to get me through conferences! This is going out district wide to share with everyone, way to go Tom!

  2. Tom said on October 30, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Well, I asked for it by posting it didn’t I?

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