(Yikes @ the cheesy title)
Despite being a Film & Media Studies student, I never considered myself a filmmaker. I’m on the critical studies track, which means I think and write about films—a lot. Still, I’m a very visual person, and I felt that my film career wouldn’t be complete (I only have four more classes to take… gulp) without at least dipping my toes into filmmaking.
I’ve made stuff before, but nothing I was ever too proud of. I’m not great at conceiving of and shooting a narrative film, but I’ve always really enjoyed the editing process. Editing is so interesting to me because there are these filmic rules you must obey—the 180 degree rule; how you have to avoid jump cuts unless you’re Jean Luc Godard. Theories of editing, like Soviet Montage, help provide some insight into why editing is so important: the editing, the juxtaposition of images, is almost completely responsible for conveying an emotion in a film. (Sidebar: there’s this fantastic film experiment in which audiences were shown a neutral face, and then an image of soup. The audience inferred that the man was hungry. Then, they were shown the same neutral face, and then a coffin. The audience inferred that he was sad. That’s editing, y’all!) Editing is responsible for a film’s rhythm—from its emotional tempo to its temporal tempo. Mostly, I’m interested in how editing can produce certain effects and emotional climates.
With this in mind, I enrolled in Lost & Found Film with John Mann. In this class, we are not allowed to use our own footage or shoot new footage. We can only use archival—“lost”—film that we then find to create edits. Whether it’s an obscure commercial from the 1950s or a home movie from the 70s, there is always some kind of bizarre and poignant—yet totally perfect—film to pull footage from.
In order to better understand this class, I need to describe John’s teaching style a bit. He’s an incredibly laid-back person and I’ve never felt nervous to present my work. He has such a great attitude about student work—whenever someone prefaces their piece with “I’m not sure I like it” or “I hope it’s okay,” he immediately works to break down their insecurities. He really does a great job of instilling a sense of confidence and pride in his students while still providing incredibly insightful and apt criticism. It’s a balancing act that he has really perfected. Also, he’s incredibly laid-back, and we often get off on fun (yet productive) tangents.
So, our first assignment started off simply: edit this. No other instructions.
In a fit of inspiration, I made this
He really liked it, and told me that the song made him “worry about me,” which pretty much means you’ve made it as a film student.
For the second assignment, we were given several readings by philosophers and cultural theorists to use as inspiration. Pretty loose prompts here, which is great; they’re just enough to get you inspired without feeling constricted.
Inspired by one theorist’s quote about home, I made this
And most recently, we read a poem for the class, and I became fixated on this one aspect of the poem: animals are truly the only creatures that are free. I decided to play with that idea, and I made this
For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been playing with found texts instead of film, using them to create descriptions of forgotten or invisible cities that we will turn into films in a couple of weeks. We spent class telling the stories of each of our cities, providing each other with feedback, marveling at each other’s fantasy lands.
Truly, this class is everything I love about my major. It’s a fun yet challenging seminar with creative minds who push me to do better. I have it at the Centre, which just feels like such a bustling, creative hub of film. Today, a bunch of projectors and monitors were installed to constantly reel student work. I’ve already noticed a huge improvement in my editing abilities—and I already feel much more at home with the label “film student.”