This year at WHSAD we started the film club with BRIC teaching artist, Grace Ann Leadbeater. We hoped to gain some knowledge about different aspects of film, and the skills required to create a quality piece. We ended up making four films: a mental health PSA, a series of interviews about the things that both stress and motivate people, a film about gender stereotypes, and two street interviews. We learned what makes a good film, how to handle a camera, why we use the equipment we do, and how all the different parts people play in a film combine together to make a piece. Check out all the films here:
Below, students have written about each film and their experiences while making them.
George Pinto “Street Interviews”
The idea behind these films was to get out there, and ask people around Williamsburg their opinions on two topics: fashion, and music. We spent almost a whole session figuring out what topics we were interested in interviewing people about. We wanted to choose something that allowed for creative, and original answers, as well as aligned with common public interests. Both fashion and music are such a huge part of our everyday lives, even if we don’t realize it, so most people will have something to say about it. The questions we settled on were: Can you tell us about your outfit? What’s your favorite fashion trend? What song are you listening to? And what’s your favorite song? None of these questions are particularly difficult, or shocking, but they resoluted in a variety of interesting, and wildly different responses, which was the film’s intention.
We started by settling everyone’s roles as camera operators, spotters to keep people out of the camera frame, sound crew, interviewers, and behind the scenes people to help hold signs, get people signatures for consent forms, and seek out strangers to interview. Settling what everyone was going to do in the classroom was very helpful, because when we got out everyone immediately knew what to do, which made setting up much faster. The biggest challenge once we got outside was just finding people willing to participate. There was a lot of trial and error involved, and it took a while before we really gained the confidence to consistently go up to people, but we actually ended up running out of consent forms before we intended on wrapping up. By the end of the film we were all more confident in ourselves, and in our skill when it came to film.
Mia Kokilashvili “Street Interviews”
After making three films, it was time for the last project. The other videos were mostly filmed in school, so for this one we wanted to go outside to make it special. The first step was coming up with the questions. We came up with two topics, fashion and music, and two questions for each topic. We made posters, and on the third day, we were out. The first day of filming was mostly just us getting used to talking to people. The second day went smoother.
There were people who didn’t want to participate, some were even rude about it, but once we got the hang of it, it got easier. Once that one person is nice to you, you become more confident to ask others. It was interesting to hear people’s opinions on these topics; some people even had the same answers. I’ll admit it was difficult in the beginning, but we became more comfortable over time. People were hesitant to come to us, but we tried our best to be approachable, some even after approaching weren’t willing to participate, but that’s okay because there were people who did participate, gave us their answers, and made it possible to make their opinions into a film. Overall, it was a great experience making us comfortable with interacting with people we don’t know.
Jaylen Blas “I’m Here Too”
When we had the first film class, Ms Grace only told us about the basics about film like the names of different shots and showed us examples of short films. I was hopeful for what’d we’d do in the future, not really sure what it would end up being. Then the next day Koestner came up to me and threw a topic at me: a mental health psa. Looking back what I really left the class was relationships, talking with people I never really spoke to on a regular school day. With the year over, it’s like day and night. Mia and Nataly were complete strangers to me, just people I saw around and Jaylen was just that, someone who I acknowledged existed because we had the same name. The first project I was the main director and came up with the story and script. It was fun, and I learned that directing is something that flows well with me. Mia and Nataly were the 2 main characters. Everyone else were extras and in a funny way Jaylen’s tendency to constantly walk around and not pay attention shifted. Watching the final product was insane to me. It wasn’t high quality at all but in my head I imagined much worse. I came out so nicely, with all the scenes we shot at different times and days seamlessly mending together. All those other days we spent finishing a film to brainstorm for the next one always felt so awkward, with the idea not feeling like it’ll clique. And every time it went perfectly, in ways of production, getting different people more involved, and just having fun while doing it. It made me think differently about school, not wanting to instantly leave as soon as 7th period finished anymore.
Elyas Sherzai “I’m Here Too”
The main idea of the film we were planning on making was a mental health PSA. As a group we picked this topic because we felt like it was important because people forget why mental health awareness is important. We prepped by making up scenes and drawing them onto a board, and also a lot of discussing. Some things we have done was add b-roll, if you didn’t already know b-roll is just extra scenes to our short movie. The process was overall easy and easy to understand since we had help with us but picking roles for everyone was difficult since a lot of people wanted to work with the camera so we had to switch a lot. We started filming in the teacher’s room, and finished filming in the park. During filming it was much easier than I thought so it was a relief. I learned how to work a camera and learned how to act a little.
Bruce Zamudio “What Stresses Us Out”
People use motivation to go against their stress. In the film club, we were all interested in knowing what other people’s stresses are and what they did to overcome it. This led to us interviewing various people, for example, teachers and students about what their stress and motivation is. What we needed first was volunteers for the interview. Once we had volunteers we started to arrange a schedule for the interview. It all went smoothly and was super organized. I was able to film the interview or hold the microphone to record it all a couple of times. Either way it was a super fun experience overall. We received all types of different answers which was super cool because I expected somewhat of similar answers. After we were done with all of our interviews we had it edited into a short video which shared all the answers of the students and teachers.
I would motivate others in the future to join the film club. The first reason is because you will meet many wonderful people whom you can socialize with. The second reason is that you will be able to do things you have probably never done, for example, filming, recording, etc. The third reason is that there would be many field trips in which you will be able to go outside to film and overall have a very good time. When I joined the film club I didn’t want to go because I thought it would be boring. If it wasn’t for my friend I wouldn’t have been able to engage in such a nice club with so many wonderful people. This is why I motivate others to join the film club because you will never know how much you can benefit from it.
Gorge Fahmi “Don’t Put Me In A Box”
My second project in the film club was called “Don’t Put Me in a Box”. It was a film about how people differentiate males from females, like how we sit, look, and even move. The cameraman and I had to make sure the focus, brightness and the background covers everything. I enjoyed it because of how we looked and acted, sometimes we would just laugh off how stressed we were. If anyone in the film club would be in trouble, it would usually be me. Because I try to have some physical fun, and sometimes I drive it off too much to the point that I would just sit down on the desk and wait for them to finish the clip. But overall I had fun, just showing the teacher the pictures I took in the week ( that’s also how I earned my place as the cameraman ). I wish to do this course again next year and for the rest of my remaining years in the school year. We came up with many different ideas for films like the difference between male and female which is the one that I talked about in the beginning. Another project is about loneliness and depression and effects of it on somebody and it was called “I’m Here Too,” and it was the first project that we made in film club.
Nataly Hurtado “Don’t Put Me in A Box”
At the beginning of making this short film we had to make a plan on what and who we were going to use in order to make everything work perfectly, we watched a video for reference and then we got to planning, it took us about 2 full lessons just to get our ideas down on paper and then we started filming, I decided to act and help with set which were my favorite 2 roles to play as in the filming of don’t put me in a box, then we got to filming.
While filming this I didn’t struggle as much but I did have a couple challenges like making specific faces or poses but I got through it easily with the help of Ms.Grace Ann (best film teacher ever), then we picked a song for the film and it took us more than 3 sessions to finish the film, Ms. Ann did the editing which is the most difficult part on these kinds of projects that are mostly edited. The video came out very nice, I liked the editing and how all the clips are so put together and synchronized, I had tons of fun during the project since I was in most of the filming process acting and I made it to many of the clips and also because my mates are very funny and make the classes extra fun, I learned a lot about background editing like backdrops and set organization and also how to be patient in different scenarios and working in groups. I had so much fun in all projects and I would overall rate this whole experience a 10/10 something more people should try out.