Christmas and New Year are already over in a blur and no doubt you are back in the classroom seeing friends and family’s resolutions taking up your newsfeed or inbox. It’s easy to fall back into the usual teaching rhythm… After all, it’s what we’ve always done. Might it be the perfect moment to take stock and strive to be better? This year, we’d like to suggest some teaching resolutions for a new year, new classroom, new you and ones that will improve engagement and interest year-round for your students. So buckle in, It’s time to become a truly 21st century teacher this year!
- Start Fresh
After the holidays, everyone is dragging their feet upon their return to work or school so instead of picking up right where you left off, use them as a springboard for starting afresh. Try new approaches in the classroom, whether that’s standing desks, incorporating games or the layout of your lesson plan to get your learners’ attention. For example, you could incorporate a quickfire question and answer session to boost engagement.
If you know you have challenging content to cover this term, encourage students to go full steam ahead with positive phrases and quelling their fears. Once they delve in, they’ll forget about everything else and get down to working on their next challenge.
A good teacher knows when to use their resources and with a plethora of teaching software available, if you aren’t already, you need to. From keeping track of student progress and grades to making easy, online quizzes it can save you time and energy, that can be better spent moulding young minds with killer content.
- Use A Virtual Learning Environment
On the subject of technology, virtual learning software for teachers is on the rise which allows greater flexibility in the classroom and beyond. No student learns the same and they shouldn’t have to. A virtual learning environment allows teachers to set tasks or training and teach remotely to compliment classroom learning for a greater chance of reaching your students. This modernization will drastically change the way you teach, for the better!
- Find Your Community
Teaching children can take a village so get rid of all the white noise in your inbox or newsfeed and keep what matters. Whether that means unsubscribing or deregistering yourself from unhelpful mailing lists, get rid of the junk. Joining groups on LinkedIn, Facebook or Edutopia, whatever your platform, find a community you can engage and bounce ideas off, they’ll inspire you (and keep you going.)
- Forge Student Understanding
Show an interest in your students this term and get to know them better. Often, you will find an element in their lives you can use to encourage or motivate them or an explanation on how they behave. It can also be a strong indicator of the type of learner they are and how classroom or virtual learning environments suit them best at different times. This will allow you to divide into groups more effectively, plan classroom tasks and generate a level of respect that breeds in a classroom environment to their peers.
- Teach Yourself
It’s time to do something for you. Find a subject, topic, crash course or podcast that re-ignites your passion for teaching and you’ll find your students respond. If you can find something that gives you extra qualifications or credentials then jump on the opportunity, what’s better than an inspired teacher to learn from?
- Get students to set goals that are in depth and SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time sensitive) to outline their aspirations this year.
- Introduce students to a virtual learning environment to gauge compatibility.
Incorporate these teaching practices for 2018 and you’ll be beating those post-holiday blues in no time. Make it your aim this year to modernize and inspire, both yourself and your learners, to make 2018 an amazing year.
Jump cuts, done in the wrong way they can look obnoxious and amateur making your filmography feel flat. However, they are one of the traditional film editing techniques that budding filmmakers can utilize; do them correctly and you’ve got a way to streamline film, create dramatic effects and sequences or cut out useless footage easily. We look at the good, the bad and the ugly of jump cuts and how to use them the right way for awesome films.
What Are Jump Cuts?
Essentially jump cuts are an editing technique that cut two shots together transitioning from one aspect to another. It seems fairly simple but this could involve scenes or subjects, for example using a cool jump cut editing trick to increase suspense in a horror film or simply to speed up time across a relationship in a romance movie.
Where Can You Use Them?
You can use jump shots anywhere as they are surprisingly diverse, from TV interviews and music videos to full-length movies or an Instagram short!
Issues To Avoid With Jump Cuts
Continuity – One of the first film editing tips given to young filmmakers is to consider their continuity in a film and this is where jump cuts can make it tricky. When using more than one subject or the complex way a shot is set up, it can be easy to make a mistake in continuity that isn’t immediately obvious (except to the viewer) which can lead to glaring mistakes. Overcome this by ensuring that jump cuts are used to keep things simple or to focus on showing time changes instead of changes to a scene.
Confusing Message – As a jump cut can be quite quick for the viewer, particularly going backwards and forwards it is important that you don’t make the scene too busy otherwise key elements can be missed. Focus on a single character, their reactions and subtle changes that are done over time rather than a lot of things happening at once which can confuse the message you’re trying to get across.
Things to Consider:
Change Shot – When using a jump cut in filmmaking, it makes changes of the background scene stand out which is not good if you’re trying to remove poor or lengthy footage that includes scene changes or differences part way through. For example, during an interview, jump cutting 3 minutes out if the subject moves can be glaringly obvious and create a jarring end result however by cutting to different shots such as a close-up to medium or wide it can show intentional transitioning making it look more professional.
Time Transitions – Another Jump cut editing trick is using them to show time passing or alternatively create a faster sequence, this is where they really come into their own.
Comedic Timing – Use a jump cut to inject some comedy into your film by jumping to close-ups of faces to see reactions or as a slapstick travelling method for traditional humour.
Jump cuts can be an excellent tool for your next film, just ensure that it benefits your storytelling and is used in the right way otherwise it may not have the impact you are looking for.
Recommended Steps for a Learning Exercise:
- Describe and explain what a jump cut is as well as its applications
- Have students attempt to create short 5 minute films of an interview with a subject including changing shots
- Ask them to cut it down to 2 minutes and make it more interesting by using jump cuts.
You’ve got a killer idea for a movie or you have the script to hand, but how do you make this a reality without a secret stash of cash? It can be difficult for student filmmakers without the industry contacts to find funding for their first projects. How films are financed varies greatly depending on the niche, demographic and initial ideas for the film. With this in mind, we are offering some insight on how to fund your film from a variety of different sources, to turn your concept into a reality.
- Government Funding
When asking how films are financed, the first point of contact is to look to your government for currently available programs, grants and incentives. Although these are highly competitive, with a thorough business plan and an excellent idea you can apply to Europe’s MEDIA programmes in line with their regulations and policies. In British filmmaking there are also specific UK government funds that you can apply for which encourage British filmmaking each year, that are provided by the BFI.
Crowdfunding is growing in popularity with films being entirely crowdfunded if their subjects are popular or they can be used to show viability and be picked up by studios (or other financers) who want to see the project go ahead. It works by offering people to donate smaller, manageable amounts into your project and in return you have different tiers of reward system for incentive.
One of the best examples of successful crowdfunding is the Veronica Mars movie that came after the cancellation of the TV show, rose in popularity and ended up being completely funded (all $5.7million) by fans. Now, even bigger studios are using partial crowdfunding to help get interest and numbers up, the downside is there is a lot of competition so you need to stand out.
- Soundtrack Financing
Focus on the music by using well-known artists and fantastic original soundtracks to promote the movie, raise its profile and secure funding that way. Music artists have their own labels and followers which will jump on the bandwagon to see their favourites perform (particularly if they have a cameo as well.) The downside is that it can steer the project in different directions than you may had envisaged and your fans will be music, rather than film orientated, meaning you’ll need to appease them as well.
Although filmmakers try to avoid this financing option because it usually means working with a lower budget, or getting themselves in debt, self-financing is still viable and leads to many personal or powerful films that make an impact. The downside with self-funded projects is you don’t have the quality control of other parties involved to tell you whether the script is good enough or not because there is no developmental stage and this can be riskier.
It’s important to remember that regardless of the type of funding you choose, you need to be clear and confident in your project, message and business plan. How do you expect anyone to finance or back your film if you’re uncertain about what you are doing? So make sure you’re first convinced yourself that it’s worth it.
The Last Jedi is causing some ripples in our own cultural galaxy’s force, to mix up some metaphors. This year’s annual installment from the almighty Disney Empire has managed the seemingly impossible by not only throwing out all sorts of preconceptions of the series, and giving it a new boost of life, but also pleasing critics and fans alike.
So, it seems that it’s our duty as cinephiles to check it out, right?
Scheduling might be an issue here though, and if you’re not booked for a screening until this coming weekend like us, then avoiding the temptation to get a sneaky glimpse of what’s in store is a battle in itself. Reviews, comments and spoilers are RIFE online and far more likely to dampen the eventual pleasures of surprise that we have in store…
With this in mind, and taking a play from the Orange-hued ‘f’ing moron’ currently occupying the White House, the best way to obstruct from the truth is to fill our minds with distractions and obfuscations. If we can no longer determine truth from something not even remotely resembling it, then we can only be surprised by each new turn of events as they present themselves… no matter how predictable or how many times we were warned about something.
Without further ado, therefore, here are some Last Jedi spoilers that will set your mind so adrift that what you eventually see on the screen will invarably come as pleasant surprises.
- Jar Jar Binks, long hoped to be dead by simply EVERYONE, makes a surprise Cameo in Episode VIII as a droid psychiatrist.
- Porgs are actually cute space parrots, instinctively mimicking the noises of any other lifeform they hear, especially Wookies.
- There’s going to be YET ANOTHER attempt to build YET ANOTHER Death Star. Those Imperial Planners just aren’t getting it, are they?
- Luke Skywalker didn’t ‘disappear’, he just went on holiday and discovered that instead of all this constant fighting, what he really fancied was some time alone to work in his poetry and practise the mandalin.
- Han Solo wasn’t killed by his son for nothing, but in a Oedipal twist, Kylo Ren was just making space to ask Leia out for an evening of ‘dancing and cosmic entertainment’
- On a similar note, BB8 and R2D2 become romantically involved and spawn not just a toaster as offspring, but an entire range of kitchen accessories.
- In a bizarre case of art imitating life, The Millenium Falcon is revealed to be made of Lego bricks.
- X-wing Fighters can only make the jump to hyper-space when their pilots tap their ruby slippers together and repeat the words ‘there’s no place like…’ No, just too weird.
- The tagline of Episode IX, after ‘The Force Awakens’, ‘The Last Jedi’ will be ‘To Go To the Bathroom in the Morning’ – making a beautiful complete sentence that reveals all you need to know about the mysterious Energy that binds the Galaxy together. (credit to Mike Pesca of The Gist for that quip)
- In Star Wars – Episode XXXVII, slated for release in 2036, the Force will be revealed to have just been the result of an experiment gone wrong in the LHC.
Thoroughly confused enough?
So, now’s the time to go to the cinema. May the enjoyment be with you. Always.
Making the most out of college as a student filmmaker can set you up for life. Whether it’s finding the future partners that you’re going to collaborate with or getting noticed and financed for your first film, it’s a crucially important time in your career. While learning filmmaking tips and tricks, you’ll also need to balance your projects and new creations alongside your friends and maybe (occasionally) get some sleep. Here are some tips to help student filmmakers make their film school experience worth it:
- Work Together
You’ll often find yourself collaborating on short films or projects, after all most filmmaking can’t be done entirely on your own, but do try to work in bigger groups. Aside from making the project more interesting and intricate it can introduce you to a larger network of people you can draw on and these could be lasting friendships in the industry. They will help you get through the experience together, understanding the needs of a filmmaking career and may even lead to each other’s success in the future. Plus as a bare minimum, the more involved in the project, the more friends, family and wider network that it can be marketed to.
- Get Your Credit
You may be taking extra courses or projects to learn filmmaking online alongside your other curriculum or you’ve decided to create a project entirely by yourself according to your interests. Regardless of where or how, try to get this counted towards your overall scores and many institutions will. It may be that your outside project earns you a higher mark or qualifies towards coursework that will bump your grades up. Or it could be demonstrative towards an initial idea for your final exam or a piece to show your teacher what you’re capable of. But if it’s teaching filmmaking and you’re putting the time in, make it count academically, (every little helps.)
- Be An Intern
Teaching cinematography and filmmaking is a lengthy and elaborate process with complex elements that can only be understood properly when seen in action. Often, making mistakes yourself or watching how professionals operate in a true setting can give you more insight and inspiration for your own projects and makes learning interactive and fun.
Many internships are paid but even those that aren’t can offer value and teach you the skills you’ll need for your filmmaking career, so they]re worth looking into. Plus, working in a live setting can expose you to new filmmaking technology that may not be readily available at college yet, setting you apart from everyone else and giving you the edge (particularly if you’re given the chance to use it.) Just make sure that you’re able to balance your time and make it count towards your grades.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Market
Unfortunately, most films (regardless of their quality) are not going to become well known and award winning on their own. You need to tell people about them and the best way to do this is to tap into their platforms on social media and use it to market to them. With more people on smartphones and devices this is a cost-effective way to filter to your demographic as well as reach out and network to others (plus it’s an excellent place to put the call out for film extras.)
Student filmmakers have a lot to consider and do during their studies whilst at film school but hopefully these tips offer more insight into how to make the very most out of the experience.
The closer we get to Christmas, the less motivated students become as they start to get distracted by the holidays, their plans and switch off their brains. This makes it particularly hard for teachers to plan engaging lessons that actually teach anything because the focus just isn’t there. With that in mind we have come up with some pre-holiday classroom activities and ideas to motivate and encourage your learners’ participation until the final day of term.
Acknowledge The Holidays
Many teachers feel that if they create an area that doesn’t acknowledge the holidays then it will feel like every day work, however this isn’t the case and often has the opposite effect by creating FOMO in students. While you shouldn’t feel too much pressure to create massive lighting designs for your classroom, some decorations or mementos go a long way to acknowledging the time of year and showing that you can incorporate this into your learning.
Go Festive But Relevant
Don’t fall into the trap of making all the tasks Christmas activities for students for the sake of it. While incorporating the holiday and time of year can make content more interesting you need to ensure it is still relevant to your curriculum, for example if you’re working on script writing, set the task of writing a winning Christmas movie script so that the underlying work is still going towards the end goals once the Christmas period is over.
Keep Resources To A Minimum
Choose activities that use fewer resources that make ending the task simple and easy because pre-holiday classroom activities that require a lot of time and effort to get involved are doomed to fail. Plus, the more resources that need to be closed or put away, the longer you will be staying in the classroom rather than wrapping up and getting home in time to enjoy your holidays!
It can be hard to pre-plan for the holidays because classes and students behave differently so you may find that different activities suit some and not others. Have a selection of choices and let the students decide what they are “in the mood for” which makes a change from normal operating procedure but still keeps everyone on track.
Holiday activities for students that are popular are those that require collaboration and working in groups. At this time of year, learners want to be social so use this to your advantage by keeping morale and interest high and making content physical and practical rather than academic. If you know focus is low, choose groups that draw different learner types to use each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
If you can’t drum up the enthusiasm to teach students this close to the holidays (particularly on the last day of term) pre-prep instead. This could be outlining what you will be looking at or working on in the New Year so that students can keep it in the back of their mind over Christmas or setting new expectations. Getting learners to look to the future makes them see past the holiday slump to consider where they will be taking projects next which can often boost motivation and excitement, particularly if you entice them with fun activities or tasks to look forward to.
Even if you have work that needs to be done before the end of term, set your expectations, acknowledge the holidays and use some of these tips to boost engagement and push through.
Everyone has their favourite classic Christmas movie whether it’s Elf, Home Alone or something more traditional like It’s a wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street. For budding screenwriters and filmmakers, holiday movies can be the perfect script writing opportunity because budgets can be kept fairly low without compromising on quality. This, in part is because it’s about the underlying message and festive feel that holiday movies emote rather than big expensive car chases or explosions (although you could add these too.) With many platforms such as Lifetime or Hallmark in the US commissioning their original Christmas movies to draw in their audiences and keep them coming back during the festive season, we wonder why this is and what’s the appeal?
Generally, holiday movies work by tittering (the word is teetering) the audience on the edge between love-driven and fear-driven frames of mind, so we have a look at the winning ingredients that you can develop into seasonal teaching exercises that tend to drive a Christmas classic movie into success:
1. Family Values
Most families will watch classic Christmas movies together but, especially in recent times, families come in all shapes and sizes which means you need to be more widely relatable. Choose a family archetype and explore all the dynamics of this, for example the impact of divorced parents, widowed parents and families or even orphaned children. Using different family values will help you relate to the audience and strike a nerve with many.
2. The Cliché
While it might make the screenwriter yawn, a cliché is a must in a Christmas movie and helps to keep it light-hearted cinema that we all know and love. Whether it’s the stroppy teenager or the weird guy at the corner (who always turns out to be the big FC – Father Christmas? Not sure if everyone would get ‘the Big FC’ especially as he’s also known as Santa Claus…) an audience enjoys the familiar and often the clichés are what makes it the most memorable.
3. Christmas Feeling
Décor and atmosphere can make or break a Christmas movie. If you aren’t setting your Christmas movie during the festival season or featuring some sort of snow, tree, fairy lights or tinsel, you’re doing something wrong! Although contested, Die Hard, Trading Places and Lethal Weapon are still considered Christmas movies to some because they are set around Christmas time and have the traditional “good over evil triumphing” themes.
4. Appealing Childhood
For adults, the appeal of Christmas movies is being able to relive the magic of Christmas, whether that’s the feeling of family traditions that are passed down or undertones of nostalgia that appear in the story. Include magical elements like folklore and phrases that adults will have been told as children when telling the story to transport them back to that frame of mind.
5. The Big Bad
Overcoming obvious conflict is key, it doesn’t have to be shrouded in mystery or blindside the audience. In a Christmas movie, you are highlighting the “big bad” of the story and going on a journey to watch the characters overcome this, sometimes it goes off without a hitch and sometimes it doesn’t but audiences need to know who to root for. This could be tangible like Kevin protecting the house from burglars in Home Alone or Scrooge overcoming himself and changing for the better in A Christmas Carol. Either way the bad guy is obvious.
A Christmas movie can be an excellent project for screenwriters to sink into during the festive season and as you can see, they take a bit more consideration and planning than you might initially realise. For more seasonal inspiration, try these training exercises with your learners!
Alfred Hitchcock’s filmmaking techniques are just as relevant today in the age of Virtual Reality as they were prior to these technological advances. Although he was wrong when he guessed that the virtual reality elements wouldn’t be possible until the year 3000, he believed that eventually audiences could be transformed into characters and experiencing entertainment for themselves as if they were there, which is exactly what is developing in the VR filmmaking industry today. His progressive style combined with respect for the audience’s experience meant that he was ahead of his time and using the beginning elements that would develop into the 360 video viewing experiences that filmmakers have access to now.
He first dipped his toe into the VR filmmaking experience with his 3D adapted stage play called “Dial M for Murder” in 1954 but without falling prey to the artificiality of having items “leap” out to the audience. Instead he used the technology to draw in the audience and make them feel present in the moment and more committed to it, therefore enhancing the experience. Alfred Hitchcock was a filmmaking legend with a long and adaptive career and some of his filmmaking tips that you should consider when adapting to VR filmmaking include:
Develop the Story
Hitchcock was a firm believer in making a situation realistic and preserving the experience rather than compromising it just to do something specific with technology. For example, don’t create elements for the sake of having something floating out of the screen and if something doesn’t make sense don’t create a “rollercoaster sequence” or jump scare when the subject turns around in the 360 viewing if it doesn’t make sense. While you want to look for opportunities to enhance your filmmaking through virtual reality, first work with the story and develop it organically, you should be able to integrate it into the medium you are using rather than change it to suit.
Follow Real Time
The 360 views of virtual reality can ground the audience and create an atmosphere of suspense or drama in the moment so it is important to savour it. The difference with virtual reality is the tone and depth you can get across rather than short, quick shots you use in traditional filmmaking so you should use your time wisely, aiming to use real-time speed in scenes and adapting the long take, something that Alfred Hitchcock was very fond of.
Virtual reality viewing can be ruined with unrealistic music with no source as it can pull the audience away from the moment, so you might want to avoid this. Hitchcock noted this in his own filmmaking and instead looked for ways to incorporate realistic sounds from the scene or use the silence itself for impact and effect to avoid the subconscious questions of the audience that are raised by artificial sounds placed unnecessarily.
Use the Subjective Camera
Everyone’s first response for using virtual reality effectively is: turn the audience into a character and shoot everything from their point of view but this creates the opposite effect and creates a detachment between this character and the rest. By not exploring this character you are creating this third-party detachment that usually doesn’t succeed and Hitchcock believed that mastering subjective shooting can allow you to turn the audience into a voyeur instead. Doing this makes characters more relatable and only enhances the virtual reality by adding extra depth and layers.
Although virtual reality is far from the “mass hypnotism” that Hitchcock dreamed of, his enjoyment of the viewing experience and skill in creating films should not be ignored, particularly when working with virtual reality that so closely works with these ideals.
Most people get a little excited by the Winter holidays approaching and get into the spirit by decorating a Christmas tree, sticking a wreath on the front door, and heading out for a bout of present shopping…
A small minority get really excited though. We mean REALLY EXCITED.
The Halliwell family of Fairfield, Connecticut take things to a whole other level by annually decorating their house with over 350,000 bulbs and a variety of Christmas figures and scenes.
Hats off to them for drawing 30,000 visitors a year, but probably NOT the approach you’ll take to lighting your next set, right?
Regardless of your kitsch tolerance, try to enjoy the spectacle… and be thankful a) this doesn’t last all year round, and b) you don’t live next door to the Halliwells.
With increasing and ever-evolving technology in the classroom, it stands to reason that our teaching techniques would also improve and adapt alongside. Blended learning is the notion of integrating traditional classroom teaching with digital elements, commonly involving a virtual learning platform that both teachers and students can access to offer different mediums for learning. In theory, this is an incredible opportunity for teachers to innovate and use different media, methods and programs to teach but it is also a breeding ground for complacency when simply moving the same techniques from paper to digital.
Blended learning should be much more than this and can not only enhance learning in the classroom but mobile learning as well, particularly when you have platforms such as Google that are easily recognisable but with privacy concerns. That doesn’t mean you have to opt for a Google education platform like Classroom, you can consider other VLE providers instead as long as how you use them is different. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that just because you are using technology to teach, that you’re being innovative. If you’re simply uploading the worksheets and having students fill them out online, you are simply upgrading your platform rather than your teaching style.
Being more engaging and motivational (among other things) are key elements to virtual learning environment success so here are some ways you can ensure that you are using digital teaching to its full potential.
How To Innovate With Digital Learning
Give Students Authority – Students who have more control over their learning process are more likely to both enjoy and adapt it to suit their needs. Digital learning gives the opportunity for around the clock access and can allow them to adapt the pace or topic to suit their needs so give them the freedom to explore this.
Use Different Mediums – From audio soundbites and books to videos and games, use various digital mediums to make the content more engaging and mix it up. You could create QR game treasure hunts to integrate real-world and digital content which will motivate students.
Be Adaptive – Teachers have access to real-time feedback with digital teaching and these analytics can be more representative of interest than students so use this to your advantage and adapt teaching methods to suit. If students are engaging more with videos then develop the content to align this way, alternatively if you can see them avoiding areas online, try to offer more help and instruction to make it more interesting.
Make More of You – Screencasting, for example, can allow you to create a walk-through or video to help those who learn at different paces. The students who just need the instructions once or prefer to replay instructions can use the screencast to answer their own questions, while you have the freedom and time to help those who are struggling and give them one-to-one help.
Digital learning is only as useful as the teachers who wield it to their full potential and without exploring all of its opportunities, it is going to be no different than the pen and paper approach. Hopefully this brief introduction has convinced you why blended learning is an innovative way to engage students, evolve how learning takes place and make the classroom exciting again.