NAGC members find the Teacher's Corner each and every month in the electronic pages of Compass Points.
In an effort to increase your understanding about specific subject areas or themes, I will provide related book titles, websites, professional papers, and other relevant resources related to these. I welcome your ideas, opinions, and suggestions as well. It is only through communication that we can continue to build and solidify our understanding of Gifted and Talented vocabulary and resources.
Scene by Scene: Connecting Filmmaking to Classroom Subjects
The snow is falling here in the Northeast and frigid temps have caused me to resort to a bit of “movie time.” A Netflix selection, gummy bears, and some M&M Peanuts, and my mind is free to relax. Similarly, the students seated before us share in this same experience, usually with a bit more junk food. Sitting there, I began to think about the interdisciplinary connections to the entire process of filmmaking and how I might share the ideas with my students.
The following topics can serve as enrichment activities for students who show interest and have some spare time during a particular class period. They can be used during weekly enrichment times, or as part of before and after school programs. They may even be inserted into pre-existing curriculum. Again, these are just a short sampling of what is possible. In some cases you or the student may need to access and make available web or print resources. I hope that they inspire you to make connections of your own.
Before the age of digital film, movies were shot on actual film and developed using a chemical process, which is still used today. College professors, existing local photo-developing stores, and individuals in the community may be available for a lecture, demonstration, or tour.
Light and lenses play an important role in filmmaking, and the principles involved demonstrate Physics in action. Students could create a fact sheet that shows the relationship between light and lenses.
Film can be 8mm, 16mm, 35mm, and beyond. Students can explore the mathematical differences between them and create word problems relating to the different kinds of film speeds.
Filmmakers calculate distances to subjects when filming in order to get the best shot. This is called focal distance and involves many equations. Have students find out what these equations are and what they tell.
Students could conduct a survey about which genres of movies people prefer. They could then calculate the mean, average, and standard deviation.
Historically, many things about film have changed; styles of cameras, genres of filmmaking, impact on society, B+W vs. Color, etc. Students could pick one of these topics to explore. You could invite a speaker from a local college to come in and talk about the history of film. Students could view different films from different time periods and see if they can point out or recognize the differences in societal and cultural styles.
A call to your local film commission could result in an interview with a local director, possibly one who works with historical documentaries.
Film production comes with a cost, or budget. Once students explore where most of the money is spent on a film, they could try to find out what it would cost to make a small-budget film during the summer.
Provide access to hard or digital copies of movie scripts. After a short introduction to the basic elements, have the students write a few scenes or even a whole short film script dealing with a topic of their choosing.
Foreign films are traditionally subtitled. For students with a talent in a foreign language, have them try to write subtitles for a few scenes of a movie.
Students could explore the major differences in writing styles for the variety of genres.
Film critique and review is important. Provide examples of film reviews in magazines or local newspapers and have the students view a film and write a review for possible submission to the school paper or local paper.
In The Arts and Music
Storyboarding, or sketches of the major scenes, is one of the first stages of filming a movie. Provide some examples of storyboards either online or on the special features of a DVD. Students could then creatively design a storyboard treatment for a scene they developed.
Actors and Actresses prepare a lot for their roles. Provide a few monologues or scenes for students to rehearse.
Editors have a special talent when it comes to piecing the final film together. Have the students view a film observe the edits for different shots.
Movie posters and production stills (photographs) are usually created to help promote a film. After observing a few examples, have the students design and create a movie poster for a movie they have seen or would like to see.
Students could explore a tutorial on how to use a video camera. They may practice shooting a few scenes, keeping in mind “multiple angle” shooting, and upload and edit this footage on a computer editing program.
Music plays a strong role in film, either as a score or musical soundtrack. After listening to a few examples, have the students create their own playlist for a movie, or in the case of budding composers, create an original piece.
Find a local film festival to attend.
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