Primary school teachers have confirmed plans to settle old scores by making their most annoying students into Nativity Play innkeepers.
As role allocation deadlines approach, some teachers have confirmed that challenging behaviour over 2016 may result in being a donkey or a Roman soldier who doesn’t get to say anything.
Year 2 teacher Nikki Hollis said: “Millie is the obvious choice for Mary, but I can’t get over that time in October when she hid all the glue sticks and blamed it on Charlie.”
“I really want Connor to be Joseph because he’s always so polite and kind, but it’s a dead cert that he’ll either cry or wet himself onstage… that decides it, he’s Joseph.”
Year 6 teacher Tom Logan said: “My Three Wise Men? Those little geniuses who drank out of a puddle last week.
“And Jo, with the racist dad, is playing the non-denominational guiding Star of Hope.”
Meanwhile, public schools confirmed that they would be honouring the tradition of awarding lead roles to the children whose parents made the largest seasonal donations.”[Inspired (with less swearing) by an article in the Daily Mash]
It’s the festive season and students are starting to relax for the holidays. Now is a great time to set them a challenging exercise to keep them creatively producing all the way through to spring term. Christmas brings us a unique opportunity to reflect on life. We’re seeing relatives we haven’t seen all year, writing up wish lists, and doing our gift shopping. From the first Christmas advert all the way up to Boxing Day, Christmas presents us with a set structure.
Structure drives everything – video games, books, good and bad films. It’s inescapable but often difficult for students to come up with on their own. Setting your class the task of creating a Christmas documentary allows them to get creative with a set structure. The arc of the festive season becomes ingrained in us as we grow up. The story seeds are ripe for the picking. Will brothers and sisters get the gift they want? Will relatives get too drunk at the dinner table? How about snow – will it be a white Christmas? These are all things that a student can document in a short film. They are scenes that snap together. When there are things to unwrap, there’s inherent tension. It’s also a great time of year to practise interviews as most people aren’t swamped with work.
Screening some documentaries in class can help everyone understand what they’re trying to do. Finding scenes that are intercut with relevant one-on-one interviews are the right skill level for early filmmakers to emulate. Having everyone start the planning stage while they’re still at school will help ease them into the project. They might want to highlight things to look out for. Perhaps their brother has always wanted a Playstation – and will Santa bring it? Drawing up a list of characters (or family members) can help spark their imaginations. Who has an interesting story to tell?
You may want to introduce your class to B-roll footage. Falling snow, busy shoppers, or public decorations are great for setting the mood. Establishing shots shouldn’t require much travel as almost all of the documentary can be filmed inside of the home. The fixed structure of Christmas means that editing shouldn’t become overwhelming. Advanced techniques – such as voice over narration, video effects, and sound editing – are up to the skill level of your class.
- Ask your class how they would define a documentary. Screen excerpts from chosen documentaries that include techniques that you’d like your class to consider emulating.
- Explain the basics of structure. Talk your students through how they can follow a story strand from the beginning of the holidays all through to the New Year.
- Introduce the aspects that complete a documentary. Such as: establishing shots, B-roll footage, text overlays, intercut scenes.
- Remind students to backup their work because one day they will enjoy looking back on their films!
In case you were unaware, the first virtual reality films have already arrived on our shores. Jesus VR: The Story of Christ (2016) was recently lacerated in The Guardian. “The acting? Dire. The direction? Awful. The adaptation? Conservative and pedestrian.” But the critic, Peter Bradshaw, admits that the technology is a different story. “It’s the first feature film to be presented in complete wraparound 360-degree virtual reality. And it’s a startling, bizarre, often weirdly hilarious experience.”
The recent wave of technology advancements that brought us the likes of Netflix, Snapchat, and the on going onslaught of social media growth all driven by the consumer. The people want these things and the things keep coming but do they want VR? No one seems to be sure. The technology requires a fast computer. Oculus recommends a high-end graphics card and an expensive Intel i5 processor and this is before their 600 dollar headset. As Tom Brannister writes for Video Ink, “Virtual reality is a top down technology […] It is being pushed by technology giants and venture capitalists, without much consumer traction as yet.”
A lot of the current uses of VR do not need writers. The construction industry is using it to create project models – it’s helping them to woo clients and impress investors. Small subsections of the real estate market are testing to see whether it works as a means to offer remote home viewings. In the military industry VR has been used to train soldiers and doctors. Crane operators are even being trained with it. None of these listed so far require creative writing. These virtual scenarios need to be setup, yes, but that’s not writing in the tradition sense.
This changes when we approach the medical industry, where VR has been used for important therapies and pain management. Bannister tells us “There is a unique opportunity for emotional storytelling here.” And he’s right. Crafting a story to reduce the pain of others is what writing is about. Empathy is rich in novels and studies have proven that voracious reading helps one to relate to their fellow humans. VR is inherently absorbing. Firsthand Technology describes their creation like this:
SnowWorld transports the patient through an icy canyon filled with snowball hurling snowmen, flocks of squawking penguins, woolly mammoths and other surprises. Patients are drawn in, throwing their own snowballs as they fly through the gently falling snow. Often they become so engaged, they don’t realize their procedure is already over!
Clinical trials have shown dramatic reductions in pain for patients. This may be the first ‘children’s game’ to have a rave review from the New York Times. Virtual reality games and movies will need writers just as much as regular games and movies do but the exciting frontier is on the edge of research, among the snowy worlds, and retail brands such as North Face, who are experimenting with VR to add emotion to shopper’s experiences. Visual writing has been evolving ever since cavemen started painting. VR has proven that there are still new frontiers to explore.
At a time when the boundaries between cinema, video, and television are being blurred, it’s interesting to note that the line between film theory and film practise is ever present. There have always been theorists that also make films but despite technological advances this number isn’t growing.
A wide range of British Universities offer practical filmmaking as a course but they separate it from film studies. Many students who are interested in film find it hard to choose between the courses and certainly don’t appreciate the wide divide in the middle. The equipment needed to produce short films is now readily available to students in the form of their smartphones, and yet, film studies courses still don’t incorporate many (if any) creative modules.
Dr Eylem Atakav, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia, recently directed A Documentary Film on Child Marriages: Growing Up Married (2016). Julia Wagner, writing for the Huffington Post, said that Dr Atakav “credits making this film with immeasurably strengthening her understanding of the medium, which she’s taught for ten years: doing something helps you to understand it better.”
Dr Atakav went further to say that she wants more films to be made in the academic arena – to benefit not only the students but the institutions too. She said: “encouraging scholarly activity that turns theory into practice helps institutions to engage with the public and policy makers more efficiently and in a way that has impact on society and culture particularly in the context of Arts and Humanities.” Wagner also pointed out Dr Joshua Oppenheimer as another filmmaker rising out of academia. Oppenheimer is the director of heavy hitters The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014) and is a Reader at the University of Westminster.
One of the responsibilities of university is preparing students for real jobs. Popular complaints about film studies, and the humanities in general, is that there aren’t many practical applications of the topics being learnt. Many say that these subjects are just preparing students for further study and jobs in academia – in a kind of unproductive circle. These students stand to greatly benefit from the practical use of filmmaking and editing technologies either to broaden their learning or to get a few student films onto their C.V.s
At the opposite end, students graduating from practical filmmaking courses and heading towards the industry need to know about cinema history. At a time when the classical methods of producing and disseminating films are being turned on their heads by the likes of Twitter, Snapchat, and Netflix, students deserve to have the knowledge of where we came from so they can start to understand where humanity is heading.
The amount of video content being consumed by the public is at an all time high. The meteoric rise in popularity of online video essays mean that film theory is just as relevant today. (see Every Frame a Painting for a shining example.) The historic split between theory and practice deserves to be made whole. In the coming turbulent years, hopefully educators in academia and industry will learn to see what the others have to offer.
It’s well known that jobs in any niche industry are hard to come by and the film industry is no different. This article will cover some of the more conventional ways into the film business and then some unconventional ways that have popped up over the past few years.
Apprenticeships are great way to learn whilst also earning money. This involves working onsite and being trained while you work. In an industry that runs on who you know, this can be a great way to show what you’re worth and begin networking. There are laws that protect you being overworked and underpaid. Employers are looking to see if you’re enthusiastic about the industry and what your skills are. What they’re after is passion and whether you can communicate effectively.
A degree is an additional route but has less chance of success. It’s not as focused on practical work in the film industry as an apprenticeship would be but you learn a whole wealth of knowledge that prepares you for many jobs instead of narrowing down in a sector. You’ll want to research what universities have good links to the industry. As we’ve mentioned, finding a job means knowing the right connections. Many universities offer the chance for their students to go and work on projects with real producers and directors. More importantly, towards the end of your degree, many institutions set up days where you can show off what you’ve created to industry insiders.
The type of degree you choose should depend on what aspect of the film industry you’re trying to gain entry to. If it’s writing, then a Creative Writing degree might be appropriate. If you’re looking for something more general, then a bachelors in Film and Television might suit you better. Earning a degree also offers you the chance to enter other areas of work outside of film. The long term nature of a degree means you will have the chance to do creative work and gain a good idea of whether it’s something you want to do as work.
As the film and media sphere gets turned on its head by the revolutionary ways to share and monetise video content, there are new avenues that one can take to get your foot in the door. These are risky and unorthodox but might tempt the most passionate to give them a try. Being an online content creator is a 21st century job and the type of content you create is pretty much up to you. There are trends you can ride but it’s best to do your own thing. There are different platforms such as Youtube, Twitter, Vimeo, and Twitch. Thousands of people are trying to strike their claim in these markets and it’s fiercely competitive but the rewards can be great.
Gaining a viewership online opens up the chance for sponsorship. Companies will literally come to you to advertise their products. Once you’ve shown the world what you can do it also proves to industry insiders that you might do well with a more traditional means of production, i.e., it becomes vastly easier to get your projects greenlit. Becoming famous online is near impossible to plan and no one would recommend it as a career path but if you’re able to put out content while working a daily job or studying in school it might just be worth a go. The worst case is you gaining a bunch of experience and a portfolio.