Having never ventured into this area of the arts, I decided to give filmmaking a try in my first semester at CA, and I did not regret my decision. The film department consists of two teachers: Justin Bull, head of the visual arts department, and Ben Stumpf, head of the computer studies department. My teacher was Bull, who was both incredibly knowledgeable of and devoted to the subject, and I learned a tremendous amount from him.
The class was divided into two parts: the sit-down learning and the producing. In regards to the first part, we listened to Bull’s presentations and watched tutorials to learn the basic vocabulary of filmmaking, segments of movies to observe the application of those techniques, and our own work to learn from each other. In the production aspect, we had about four projects in total, each one incorporating more techniques that demanded more from us as we gathered more vocabulary and skills.
Prior to this class, I only focused on the story aspect of movies, never really considering the technological aspect behind it. I knew that films took a large amount of effort to produce, but I never really understood why. In Introduction to Film, I learned what it took to produce films, and it shocked me how much work was needed to produce the final piece that all of us enjoy on the computer, the TV, or the cinema screen. The longest pieces we produced were only about 10 minutes long, yet they took hours to plan, film, and edit.
In all our projects, each shot was planned ahead of time: the angle that it was to be taken it, the amount of space that the actor(s) would take up in the screen, how much of the actor was to be displayed on the screen, the techniques that would be implemented, the amount of lighting needed, the duration of the shot. I was astounded by how many there could be within a mere five minutes of a movie or film. I remember at the very beginning of the semester, Bull had us watch five minutes of a Quidditch scene from “Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban,” and told us to clap every time there was a new shot. I think by the time the segment had finished, we had clapped at least 40-50 times.
This class gave me the opportunity to write scripts, learning to weave stories that would interest the audience with my own experiences and my imagination. The filming and editing process highlighted the importance of creativity, balance, and collaboration. As I worked with my classmates to produce meaningful pieces in a new medium, I learned from their originality and that of my teacher, Justin Bull, too, which was, to me, one of the many invaluable facets of the class.