Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lazy Sunday # 318: Film Studies 101…0100101101

This week on Karen Walton’s inimitable Facebook Group, InkCanada, a writer hopeful sought advice with regard to which educational stream might best suit her desire to join the tribe of screenwriters.

She was inundated with great ideas from both industry vets and neophyte scribes. Yet another example of how the Internet can nurture a community and culture.

And it got me thinking about how rich a film education these days can be.

When I was starting out, I saw the classics the way they were originally meant to be seen, on a gigantic screen in a cavernous theatre. Because that was the only format in which they existed.

Oh you could see great movies on television, but only if they were fragmented by commercials and often with chunks left out to meet the demands of time or family friendly censors.

I remember sitting slack-jawed before “Citizen Kane”, “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Yojimbo”, literally overwhelmed by the cultural power that reflected from that giant screen, wondering why so few of the films I saw every weekend held such sway over their audiences.

That feeling drove me to shelves of books about film-making and dog-eared copies of magazines like “Films & Filming”, where the glossy illustrations offered a taste of what was imparted onscreen.

But short of getting into one of the few major film schools, that was about the best you could do.

And these days you can learn more online in a single afternoon than you could hope to encounter over a full semester in one of those schools.

Virtually any film and most television from any decade, genre and nation is there for the watching, or at least the ordering to stream or download. The scripts are there. Interviews with all of the creatives. “Making of…” footage. “How to…” workshops.

You can even find forums of filmmakers looking for those who (whatever their experience) want to get hands-on experience in a film going into production.

I find it hard to believe you couldn’t get a fairly top-notch education just by taking the free courses offered by Coursera or iTunes University.

One of the richest mother loads of film education can be found at a great site called “Cinephelia And Beyond” -- always located on the sidebar to your right once this post disappears.

What’s great about this site and others like it is that they offer students of film not only all that most film schools offer of an educational nature, but the ability to focus on where their own passions take them.

If you’re convinced you’re the next Hitchcock or Robert Towne. If you need insight on cinematography, scoring or art direction, it’s all to be found online. Find a place to start and map your own path to suit your own talents or dreams.

What’s missing, to some extent, is the mentorship and one-on-one personal attention of a live teacher. But over the winter I earned a couple of film credits on Coursera where the professors were readily available in chat rooms and forums, open to discussing whatever you needed. 

Ultimately, we all learn differently and we each have our own needs and criteria for feeling we’ve gotten what we wanted. But when you’ve got some of the greatest film-makers in the world available at your fingertips any time you want them, you can’t go too far wrong.

Enjoy Your Sunday…

1 comment:

David said...

Great article, great video & and awesome ending with John Ford :)