Innovative Exercises to Transform Students into Thinking Film Makers - Raindance

In the 21st century, the need of a film institution or private coaching classes for filmmakers is at an all-time high. With aspiring filmmakers flooding towards these institutions, it is time to reflect on what makes your school or classes different from all the other filmmaking tutors’. Today, we’re going to show you how you can inspire your students to not only hone all their skills in filmmaking, but also how to adapt to the thinking film maker’s hat.

Lesson 1: Classroom Engagement and Multiple Views

The first step in gaining your students’ attention is a fun and creative interactive session. Now, let’s see how this scenario usually plays out. You invite people to introduce themselves with names, location and at best, why they are there. If you’re looking for an average lesson, that’s fine. However, these are budding filmmakers; give them something more to work with! Invite them to craft their own stories instead of an ordinary introduction. Tell them to create a flip book, make them create their own slideshow introduction, share baby pictures and special moments: after all, the best films often involve soul searching and revelations. Trust us – this is the perfect first start.

Lesson 2: Diverse Array of Groups

Once your students get familiar with each other, split them into groups every few lessons and force them to work with new people. Not only does this help them familiarize themselves with different kinds of filmmakers, it gives them a chance to get used to more unknown factors and constantly challenges them. For instance, if you have a group of three friends, separate them up and make them work with three others who they do not like. Filmmaking is as personal as it is interactive, and learning through active participation is one of the most engaging ways of learning. In classroom activities and projects, throw in a couple of group projects to help your students hone their collaboration skills.

Lesson 3: The Awareness Mantra

Now comes the fun part! This is the first and most basic exercise you can offer to your students: the “being aware” program. If innovative preschools in Fremont are using similar techniques for building associative powers and free-thinking, so should you. The emphasis on sensorial curriculum at the school, for instance, teaches children to match and distinguish things through their senses. This, in turn, enhances their abilities to be more awakened to everything around them. For the purposes of a film school exercise, you can introduce various objects including spices, sand, soundtracks (from natural or industrial settings) and colour wheels for your aspiring directors and filmmakers. For a filmmaker, this ability to make use of sense perceptions can be extremely useful and can eventually lead to innovative pathways in later years.

Lesson 4: The ABC Formula

Another simple classic when it comes to filmmaking lessons is the ABC trick, where word associations extend beyond simple images and include plot, storyline, and videos. For instance, provide your students with one particular alphabet, say, B. Then ask them to create an entire story with the use of subjects and objects that begin with B. A good one-liner example would be: Brida sat underneath the Birch, with its expansive breadth and the Birds which had made it their Beautiful Bridal Bower. While this appears to be a preschool trick, it allows for creation of entire narratives and associative sentences, expanding the aspiring film maker’s vocabulary and power of thought all at the same time.

Lesson 5: Back to Photography Basics

The sensory perception and association training can also be undertaken in terms of photography. While most standard curricula contain some elementary training with photographs, the trick to engaging students is through making it more personal. For instance, ask your students to combine some family photographs and create a story with them. Or, provide them with an audio track with sound effects and ask them to take a field trip, visit their favourite locations, and try to create a scene with photographs that illustrate the audio, and vice versa.

Lesson 6: Reconstruction Reconnaissance

It is important to give your students a little liberation and room for creativity, and the best way for doing this is through two different but similar exercises. First, bring with you a comic strip and whiten out the dialogue. Then provide your students with the opportunity to provide dialogues as they see fit. Alternatively, what you can do is take a scene from any work of fiction, and let students play director or script-writer. For instance, take any scene from a Robert Ludlum about things to do in France or when visiting Maine states’ massive forests (perfect for a Portland Arborist!),  also note Stephen King who also lives in Maine and many of his stories play in the deep lush forests of Portland’s surrounding areas. Let them choose aspects such as blocking, long shots, close or wide angles, framing, lighting, etc. It not only provides them with a taste of adaptive filmmaking, it gives them a chance to explore their own abilities as future filmmakers, yet within a controlled classroom environment.

Lesson 7: Lessons in Observations of Daily Life

When it comes to filmmaking, a huge part of it involves mimicking real life. Documentary filmmakers, in particular, benefit from exercises in daily observation: although it is beneficial as a training method too. One fun exercise can be centred on the events at a busy mall, park or marketplace. Not only does it allow for some bonding and group exchanges between students, it provides examples of everyday life that they may never have stopped to notice before. For instance, a homeless man at the mall can inspire a startling movie of loss and partition, while a green scarf can result in a heartwarming romantic flick. Observations of human nature are an immensely important part of filmmaking, which is why this exercise should help your students in later years. You need to impress upon your students the importance of taking interviews and notes and then writing a story based on one particular character they meet or see.