I want each student to produce a short film about completing a process and have it on YouTube - ready to screen - for our next class on Dec. 11th.
By process I mean a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.
Simply put, I want each student to make a short film about someone doing something.
They can work with other students making their films, but each student should make their own short film. They can shoot it on cellphones. It can be edited together using any editing program the student wants - even just in the phone.
I would prefer that each film be no longer than 15 shots. Shorter is OK. No film should be longer than 2 minutes - and shorter is OK.
The finished films must be posted to YouTube.
In English, film teachers call the kind of film each student will be making a “process film.” That's because these films show a process - a series of actions or operations leading to an end - from start to finish.
For a process film, each student can choose to show almost any process with a beginning, middle, and end.
1) A girl putting on make-up.
2) A boy tuning his guitar.
3) A child tying a shoe.
4) A mother making noodles.
5) A worker planting a tree.
The great thing about a “process film” as a learning exercise is:
1) It teaches about visual storytelling. You need to plan your shots to tell the story. The idea is not to use words (try not to use dialogue or voice over) - just let the pictures tell the story. It will really help to have a written story outline and storyboard - but they are not required for the assignment. Music is OK but also not required.
2) Almost every Hollywood film includes a section that is technically a “process film.” A chase sequence is a process. And Rocky training for a fight is a process. And Tony Stark building his Iron Man suit is a process. So learning how to make a “process film” is an essential part of learning be a filmmaker.
But wait… we’re not done…
The part of the assignment that makes it complicated is that I also would like each student to use both of the tools we discussed in our last class as they think about their process film.
Specifically, the tools I want them to work with are the ”4 Character Questions” and “The Hero’s Journey.”
To start, once each student has decided on a process, I want them to ask the 4 questions about the character who is engaged in the process.
1) What does the girl putting on make-up believe?
2) What is the girl putting on make-up afraid of?
3) What does she think she wants?
4) What does she really want?
(Maybe she is going on a date she doesn’t want to go on - because she thinks the boy isn’t good enough for her - but then her date surprises her with flowers! And she realizes she really wanted to be appreciated!)
Or maybe the boy tuning the guitar will be performing a song at his parent’s wedding anniversary. What he believes and fears will effect how he behaves. And, if the filmmaker really considers what the boy tuning the guitar thinks he wants and what he really wants - could that help to make the guitar-tuning film much better than just a film where the lead character doesn’t have goals and obstacles?
In addition to thinking about the "4 Character Questions," I also want the students to think about "The Hero’s Journey."
Here are links that the students can follow to watch videos that explain how The Hero’s Journey has been used in other films:
Is engaging in a process (e.g., putting on make-up or tuning a guitar) like a journey with trials and an ultimate battle? Does the person who has attempted the process (of putting on make-up or tuning a guitar) return with a new understanding about what they are capable of? Maybe that’s asking too much for a short film. But The Hero’s Journey is a tool that Hollywood screenwriters often use to think about how to make their stories richer and more meaningful. And it actually can help to make even very some short films (commercials?) better.
Here is the assignment in Chinese (translated by Chen Cheng-Yu).
在英文中，電影學校的老師將這類的影片稱之為" process film"。因為這些影片展現了從頭到尾完成某件事的各種步驟或行動。
B. 幾乎所有好萊塢電影中都包含了可被視為process film的片段。一段追逐戲，洛基中為比賽訓練的過程，東尼史塔克打造他的鋼鐵衣，這些都是process film。學習如何拍攝process film是學習如何成為電影創作者不可或缺的原素之一。