The Exp Summer Daily

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The Experimentory Blog

Our year-round blog describes our program, values, and plans for next year.

The Exp Summer Daily

Our summer news consists of daily updates while we're in session -- giving a window into past years.

Page and Screen: A visit to comics and film

Aug 3, 2018 2:24:35 PM

Session 2 Showcase Day is here! In anticipation of the big day, Ian visited our French Culture, Comics and Film course. Here's what he learned!

With the Showcase Day drawing closer by the hour, everyone in French Culture, Comics, and Film everyone is hustling to finish their final presentations: a film and comic pair. Students began the course two weeks ago by practicing different shots, perspectives, and editing techniques. They sharpened those skills first by creating short black and white comedies in the style of early French silent films. Then they made more short films, experimenting with different methods of connecting shots to create a sequence. Besides creating these sequences, the students also had create stories, write scripts, scout locations, and act!

Nicole, Maia, and Tyler agreed that the hardest part of their project had little to do with planning or recording their film. Instead, it was the dozens of small problems and road blocks. They had to learn how to use new editing software, transfer and sort files, etc. We also talked about learning to use DSL cameras, which can be especially challenging to adjust between lighting, angles, focus, and the colors and warmth in different environments. Some of these hardest challenges come before you’ve even begun filming! Even sorting through the (possibly hundreds!) of shots can be a very time-consuming.


A bump along the way: Maya D
accidentally photobombs while Brandon
films a scene with 
Ava and Mandy.

Nicole, Maia, and Tyler also walked me through some of the techniques they used in thier film. “We learned how to do different shots for instance," Nicole explained. "Before this project we had to film a bunch of different shots: over the shoulder, wide angle, and others like that. Now we can add them to our final film."

They also explained “conventions” to me. I had never thought of it before, but Maia pointed out how many films used effects like ripples or music to indicate entering a dream or show that something sad or ominous is about to happen. We usually don’t think about conventions, but they are very important for both storytelling and distinguishing a film.

In another group Maya, Ava, and Mandy were completing the final edits on their film. Brooks joined us as well to talk about his group's process. They had come across many of the same challenges as the other groups: becoming fluent in the technology and equipment, knowing how to edit and take shots, and all the small hurdles that can appear while filming. One particular challenge that set them back: one of their filming locations, the Caswell Library, became unavailable, leading them to re-shoot a lot of their footage in the Boyden Library. Brooks’ group came across a similar problem, but instead of re-shooting, they changed their story to accommodate: their characters walk into the door of one building and out a door in a completely different location. They explained that technique is actually very common in film. What a creative solution!

Nicole, Tyler, and Maia editing their 
final project.

The group also explained the place of comics in their curriculum. For the final project they had to tell the same story twice: once in a comic and once in a film. Comics allowed students to play with dialogue, content, and “gutters” (which they explained were the open spaces between comic panels), to add effects and aesthetics to their stories, and in some cases experiment before creating their actual films.

The creativity and skill that it took to design the comics and films that the kids were making was undoubtedly impressive, but what stuck with me most was the problem solving it took to create their films. Filming was not always easy, and many groups faced the kinds of problems that you may face in the real world, in which many things can go wrong, and can’t be planned for. Every student had to be creative and persistent to overcome those challenges, and while that wasn’t necessarily the most fun aspect of making movies and comics, it might just be what they learn the most from.

-- Ian, Program Proctor

The Exp Summer Daily provides news and updates while we are in session in July and August. The rest of the year, check out the Experimentory Blog for posts feature our students, teachers, classes, values, goals, and plans for the coming year.