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Archive for the ‘Chapter 8’ Category

Just a quick note about a part of the media creation process that has the potential to provide fertile ground for classroom discussion and skill development: The Pitch.*  (See also: Pitch Notes 101.) 

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I am commenting here because this spring, my Advanced Video Production class has engaged in what have been the most fruitful, productive, constructive pitch sessions I have seen.  In this case, for the final project of the course, based on Chapter 7 writing and Chapter 8 project in Moving Images, the students came to class with outlines and project development materials (story breakdown, log line, other possible elements) and needed to pitch their concept and gameplan to a collaborative team.  Very positive attitudes, creative and respectful reactions and conversations, and concrete story development (along with discussions of sound, visuals, and more) was achieved by all group members.  

One resource available related to the development of skills in pitching and workshopping is a unit on media storytelling from members of Pixar studios (by Khan Academy) and which features a section on Pitching and Feedback.

* Please note: This process also has the potential to provide some of the most thorny challenges to any learning environment: through pitches, students open up themselves to group feedback in ways that can make them vulnerable and defensive.  It is critical to put into place effective, healthy approaches to workshop-type classroom situations and feedback-based interactions.  Make sure to examine a variety of project-based learning strategies outlined in texts like Moving Images and in resources available such as through mediateacher.net or the Journal of Media Literacy Education.

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In earlier posts, mediateacher.net has featured posts that highlight lessons that can be learned from study of movies from the Star Wars franchise, particularly with Rogue One and innovative work in sound design.  Along with the superbly detailed book The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film by J.W. Rinzler, there is this YouTube video that explores how George Lucas arrived at his final cut of Star Wars through the work of his editors Paul Hirsch, Richard Chew, and Marcia Lucas) and which can be very eye-opening to students about the development of story and the power of the editing process (and all of the stages of movie production) in arriving at the definitive version of a film.

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Developing dynamic and moving performances can be one of the greatest challenges for actors and directors working in collaboration.  Let’s add to the mix another set of creators who generate performances in motion pictures: animators.

Here are some interesting resources that highlight the extensive work of animators in developing compelling and well-defined characters through drawn or CG images.  First, there is an excellent article on the work of Pixar animators for a new movie featuring a beloved character: Woody in Toy Story 4.  Along with Tom Hanks’s exceptional voice work, a team of animators led by director Josh Cooley (at least for this fourth installment of the franchise) worked diligently to capture the wide range of emotions and traits seen in Woody and the rest of the Toy Story gang, and this is explored extensively in this piece by journalist Darryn King.

To investigate the ties between acting and animated film, it is critical to explore the creations of the Japanese master director Hayao Miyazaki.  Here are two articles on Miyazaki: an interview from The Telegraph and an overview of his career and the films of Studio Ghibli.

From “Cumo” by Emily Fabrizi

Speaking of performance through animation, here are two films from students of mine.  Cumo is an exceptionally crafted and delightful piece of animation by high school senior Emily Fabrizi that is highly worthwhile to explore for its reliance on performance — and without dialogue!  Another animated movie that weaves a strong character-driven portrait — and once again without any dialogue — is this award-winning college project by my former student Brendan Kirschbaum: Solo.  Both shorts feature many elements worthy of study for nuances in performance, all crafted by animators.

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Agnes Varda making first feature “La Pointe Courte”

Couldn’t resist that title.  In Chapter 8 of Moving Images, students explore the positions that correspond to the filmmaking tasks for which they have been developing skills throughout their work with the textbook.  These jobs have been in a pretty constant state of flux for a number of years as the processes of the digital media pipeline and business of media production continue to evolve and transform.

Recently a very interesting piece by Cara Buckley on gripping appeared in the New York Times: What is a Grip?  The Few Women Doing the Job in Hollywood Explain.”  Check out this article to find some answers along with insights and inspiration.

On a topic related to a core theme of this article, mediateacher.net notes the deeply sad news of the passing of Agnès Varda, one of the most important filmmakers of this era and a truly inspiring creator and visionary.

And to continue with another follow-up (related to the earlier references in multiple ways!) to working in the movie industry, here is an interview with Jessica Lee Gagné, the cinematographer of the stunningly shot Escape at Dannemora, a Showtime 7-part miniseries directed by Ben Stiller, released a few months ago to widespread acclaim.  Amazing work both behind and in front of the camera.

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01GHOSTBUSTERS4-COMBO-master675An interesting then / now filmmaking comparison will be on hand this summer with the new version of Ghostbusters directed by Paul Feig and starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon (with the classic original having been directed by Ivan Reitman and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis).  Here is an article that provides some insight into decision making processes that students do not often think about: art direction and visual design.  Props, vehicles, sets, and more aspects of the world that the filmmakers are creating are featured in this discussion with director/screenwriter Paul Feig and production designer Jefferson Sage.  Put on your Proton Packs and get ready to bust some ghosts!

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