The goal is to introduce students to the subject of film-production with emphasis on short films and low-budget productions. The classes contain subjects like the basics of drama and introduction to modern screenwriting story structure as also basics of character creation, with focus on using this knowledge in short-film writing. The differences between imitation and inspiration is discussed and students get to know different creative exercises that might help them create stories that contain the basics of drama as also are close to their own life-experience, thus truthful to them. In following classes students are introduced to different filmmaking techniques, focusing on pre-production and production elements that can help them create short films in low-budget conditions. Students are introduced to aspects of film directing involving creative use of optics, framing shots, blocking the camera and camera movement as also actors or objects within the frame in order to achieve certain effects. At the end of this class, students should be able to transform the acquired knowledge directly in practical film exercises or short film productions created at school or else.
Lesson 1 - INTRODUCTION TO NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
This lesson will present a general overview of what characterizes narrative short films, including format and technical aspects and how that is connected to film festivals. Most common use cases of short films will be discussed as also types of stories that work in the short story format and basics of drama showcased by film examples and compared to feature film writing. You will also learn the difference between story, plot and theme as also what a dramatic question is, which are essential narrative devices to understand.
Lesson 2 - BUILDING CHARACTERS
This lesson will serve as an introduction to character building in drama. We will focus on key ingredients that make a character the driving-force behind the plot both in feature films and short films. This will be presented through analysis of film excerpts and presentations of screenwriting theory. This lesson will also explain how to efficiently introduce characters in short films, which is crucial for engaging storytelling but also difficult because of the constrained time format.
Lesson 3 - STORY STRUCTURE
This lesson will be an introduction to the concept of story structure and the traditional “three acts” including the reasoning behind it as also an explanation of the main elements and their definitions. Syd Field’s Paradigm will be presented as a theoretic tool allowing organization of stories into structured timelines that create engaging storytelling experiences. You will be introduced to flexible tools for plotting both long and short stories. You will also learn about management of audiences’ feelings of hope and fear for the story.
Lesson 4 - INSPIRATION
This lesson will be about the importance of inspiration and how it differs from imitation. Throughout the class you will be presented with different practical exercises that can spur creative writing immediately including a retelling and restructuring of an important memory of yours. We will also break down a lyrical song in order to recreate a character, story and mood, which could then be used to create an original story. The importance of personal and emotional connection to the story one tries to tell and the difference between life and drama will be discussed.
Lesson 5 - CREATIVE USE OF OPTICS IN VISUAL STORYTELLING
Budgetary constraints – which are almost a given when shooting short films – can actually spur filmmakers to find creative solutions. But in order to tackle those constraints it is essential to learn about and understand the fundamental tools used in filmmaking. This lesson will serve as an introduction to how lenses work, how we can classify them as also to optical concepts like perspective, depth of field, field of vision and how to use those in order to enhance visual storytelling in a cost-efficient way. This lesson will also explain what film language is and showcase examples of the different aspects of it used in films.
Lesson 6 - ENERGIZING THE FRAME
This lesson will introduce you to the impact of movement both within the camera lens on the image, as also movement of the camera itself. We will discuss blocking of the camera but also actors and objects within the frame to achieve certain effects. This will include the use of optics, three dimensions and characteristics of specific lenses for the purpose of creating engaging visual storytelling. You will learn how to use this knowledge in specific situations and how to create dynamic shots. The lesson will conclude with examples of when camera movement serves the storytelling and when it does not.