The new 2010 two week video production class weblog--day one
1) For the second year, I will try to keep up a daily account of my trials and torments while teaching a two-week video production class.
2) This year's class has ten students. We met this afternoon to look at several finished 10 minute videos from previous years' classes, videos that ranged from the sad story of a young man who drops his yoyo at a talent show to the romantic entanglements of two jewel thieves at a local museum. I also showed the class a YouTube clip of Fede Alvarez's Panic Attack, a $300 short film that quickly garnered him an offer to direct a $30 million Hollywood movie. We discussed how DIY films like Paranormal Activity have reshaped the filmmaking landscape recently, how, thanks to cheap new distribution methods (like YouTube), students have more capability than ever to get their short films watched, and thereby get a possible toehold in the movie industry.
3) In the midst of showing the previous student movies, I talked of all of the classic problems with shooting and crafting a 5 to 10 minute video. I still don't have the greatest sound system, because I've never bought one and the school has never shown much interest in financing one in today's penny-pinching academic climate. We have four cameras for two groups, so the students may use one camera to record sound in the distance while filming with another. But this does raise a question:
Can anyone reading this blog recommend a good sound-recording system for a video production class? One that is relatively cheap? One than can work with Pinnacle 12 editing software? A good boom microphone and such?
4) I also talked about problems previous students encountered with wind, fluorescent lighting, crappy shot composition, distracting things in the distance of a shot interfering with the dominant, automatic exposure issues, poorly written stories, bad acting, mistakes in the mise-en-scene such as accidentally leaving a tripod in the background, jump cuts (although I did extol the cheap virtues of French new wave techniques), automatic focus problems, and on and on. The students sat there politely and listened, trying not to yawn. For homework, they need to think of the groups they will form by first thing tomorrow morning, each group including a director, several actors, a camera person, an editor, a writer, and someone to draw the story-boards.
5) On the plus side, last year the class ended up shooting scenes in a local Belks, a gas station, a coffee shop, a local museum's basement, and a private residence by a lake. One student asked the police if she could borrow an officer for a scene, and the police said sure. What kind of officer would she like? So, the opportunities for more cool locations await us now. A church? The police station? A graveyard? Perhaps a hospital for some Shutter Island-type scenes?
5) Otherwise, things seem suspiciously easy thus far this year, although I've already annoyed the IT staff by asking them to move and prepare the editing computers at the last second. The weather thus far has been sunny but very cold.
6) I also mentioned that years now I've been interested in one group seriously making a zombie film, and they showed interest. Perhaps this year will be the ONE?!?