SchoolArts Magazine

SUM 2017

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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CONTINUED ON PAGE 41. David Gran M E D I A @ R + S F or nearly twenty years, I have been teaching film classes in some capacity—from basic film- making skills with third-graders, to week-long boot camps, to Inter- national Baccalaureate film classes for junior and senior high-school students. Working in the Innovation Institute, I have learned that, above any exposure to technical skills, people's ability to work together in a creative capacity is perhaps the most important factor in crafting an excellent film. As introduced over the course of my past few columns, the Innovation Institute is a two- year interdisciplinary project-based learning curriculum that we've been developing at the Shanghai American School over the past few years. This elective program integrates the learn- ing from four of students' classes: science, English, social studies, and of course, art. A Brave New World To prepare students for this project, we put to them this driving question: To what extent are we living in a brave new world? In addition to dis- cussing and analyzing the novel Brave New World in their English class, students examined issues of gene therapy, cloning, and CRISPR tech- nologies in their science class. In their AP Seminar class, they discussed a number of ethical issues surrounding these concepts—focusing on utopias, fascism, technology, and the roles of art and religion in society. At this point, students were pre- pared to engage with the material on their own terms. They were tasked with creating a film that comments on a contemporary societal issue connected to genetics, epigenetics, or free will. Film Analysis We began this project by asking stu- dents to form teams and introduc- ing them to the various crew roles that would be open to them on the film—director, cinematographer, editor, and sound design. Once they selected their roles, they analyzed how meaning can be created in film through each of these jobs. They deconstructed the award- winning student short film, Bar - tholomew's Song by Destin Cretton and Lowell Frank (viewable at vimeo.com/1901652). The totalitar - ian themes in this film connected back to Brave New World and the AP Seminar. The careful use of film language to create meaning towards the themes and tone of film allowed them to think deeper about how meaning is created in art. In the past, I have approached skill building in my general film classes as indi - vidual units. By examining the same materials through a different lens with this approach, students were able to have deeper conversations about the multiple ways that mean - ing is created in film. Grasping the Concept In the many years that I have been teaching film, I have never seen students grasp the concepts around filmmaking so thoroughly and so fast. I believe that the reason for this is two-fold. It derives from the strong emphasis on developing their themes and ideas through this interdisci- plinary approach and focusing on how meaning is created through one aspect of film language. Furthermore, Are We Living in a Brave New World? The abilit to work together in a creative capacit s perhaps the most important ingredient in the recipe for creating an excellent film. 22 SUMMER 2017 SchoolArts

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