Filmmaking with JD at Columbia Academy

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By JD O’Brien

After jumping on board with Inverted Arts this past summer, I got the opportunity to teach my first after-school film class with the 6th through 8th graders at Columbia Academy. A lot was learned, and the students might have picked up a thing or two as well. 

We started by talking about story structure and the necessity for our heroes and heroines to tackle challenges by first failing and only then can they overcome those challenges. We talked about how often in movies, what the character thinks they want and what they actually need are different, and that it’s only by failing at what they want that they’ll find what they need. Using examples like Beauty and the Beast and Black Panther, the students picked up quickly on these concepts and started working on their own scripts.

With intentions of shooting and editing short stories that the students had written, we moved in to cinematography and how to use the great cameras that Inverted Arts has. The students picked up the cameras quickly, but then our heroes faltered. We all discovered that leaving middle schoolers to direct each other and execute a plan doesn’t always go smoothly. After a couple weeks of chaos, we finished off the trimester with a week of a more organized shoot that I directed and gave them room to create inside that.

We won’t know for a long time if the next Spielberg was in that class, but these students had a lot of fun and discovered that they can be creative, and bring their stories to life through film.

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