By Al McDowall, Secondary Film Teacher
The grade 12 DP Film students have been looking into the influence a director has on the film that he or she helms. In order to really see the difference each vision can have on a project, they were tasked with individually directing their own short film from a choice of six monologues. Inevitably, some scripts were chosen by more than one student, allowing us all to recognize that there are multiple ways to tell the same story. This was not an easy task as they invariably chose to be director, cinematographer, editor and – in some cases – actor. That’s a lot of hats to wear but did ensure that their artistic vision remained undiluted.
The results were impressive, and, while it’s true that few submissions were entirely flawless, there was plenty to applaud in each student’s work. On display was a keen sense of framing, an understanding of the degree to which soundtrack enhances the emotional content of a scene, an awareness of the importance of keeping a film visually engaging without distracting from the central themes and performance, and an ever developing recognition of what an unsung hero the editor is. There is at once, a display of maturing sensibilities alongside a youthful joy in creativity that is a delight to see.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, it’s very easy to see many of the IB Learner Profiles in action here – clearly the students have to be knowledgeable and inquiring, thinkers and communicators. For me though, as their teacher, the Profile most admirably on display was the one that few of the students would have even considered – Risk Taking. Whether they were performing or producing, they knew that their work would be viewed and judged and this can be one of the biggest challenges to anyone who works creatively. Will their audience understand what they were striving for? How close to their ideal will they get? Will other people like their film? Some of them had to work against their own doubts and fears with regard to their ability to singlehandedly create a film. However, at this stage in their time at WISS it has become second nature, almost to the degree that taking a risk is no longer a risk – it is simply another challenge to accept, to attempt, to overcome and to learn from.
However, at this stage in their time at WISS it has become second nature, almost to the degree that taking a risk is no longer a risk – it is simply another challenge to accept, to attempt, to overcome and to learn from. This attitude, surely, sets a person up for success in life – the ability to put one’s effort into the realization of an idea with minimal effort wasted thinking about ‘what can’t be done’. After all, to quote Walter Sobchak: “If you will it, Dude, it is no dream”