Lookbooks are a tool that both professional and amateur directors use to bring their films to life. They’re visual planning tools – and can contain anything from images to character sketches, location ideas to different colours and textures. For students, lookbooks can be a great way for them to contextualise their thoughts, unblock their creativity, and discover what genre and tone their prospective films belong to. Lookbooks can also be created from already existing films – this is an easy way to deconstruct movies and explore motifs.
Creating lookbooks also enables students who are working together to get on the same page. The great thing about this exercise is that the scope is up to you. This is a project that can be completed in one class. Students can be encouraged to look up photographs and paintings, and to take screengrabs from movie trailers or TV clips.
Planning projects is something that a lot of people struggle with. We prefer to jump straight into creative endeavours. A lot of the planning methods that students are used to, such as spider diagrams and beginning-middle-end structuring don’t fuel their imagination. They bring back memories of struggling to write stories in English class. The great thing about lookbooks is that you can point to big time directors who used them to create their films. Often, these lookbooks are published and are available online. When students see that this is a tool used by the pros, they will respect it and want to emulate them.
Lookbooks can be part of teaching your students how to pitch their projects. Modern pitching is less about “being good in the room” – today, pitches are far more multimedia-based, where the image is king. Teaching your class about the foundations of pitching will follow them all the way to their first professional projects. Your students will remember the first time someone guided their thoughts into structured planning, the time when they stood in front of their class a little nervous but excited, and prospered.
- Describe the concept of a lookbook and show your students an example of what one might contain. Point out how real working directors use this process to address any worries that this is just another grade-school-level planning method.
- Set your class the task of creating a lookbook from scratch or deconstructing one of their favourite films into a series of images, moods, colours, and so on. This can be done in class or for homework – as single or group work.
- Have students upload their work to a shared space and encourage feedback from everyone. Perhaps explain the concept of a criticism sandwich – positive feedback, constructive feedback, positive feedback.
- Finally, use this exercise as part of the planning, and creating, of structured short films.