More thread is needed, I think, so here’s a little item dredged out of the day’s work:
I spent much of the day reviewing syllabi and materials for next semester’s classes, one of which is a pretty demanding course on making documentaries.
That meant I looked at a bunch of short films I showed my students last year, pruning the catalogue to make space for stuff I saw in the meantime that will bump some of my older choices from this iteration’s playlist.
There are some, though, that are hardy perennials — I think I’ve mentioned this one on the blog, for example, which won an Oscar in 1958. That stays on the list.
So does one that I show in the first session every year. I use it to both demystify the process, especially the technical side of shooting and framing and editing a moving picture, and to raise the bar. The work is incredibly simple, if all you’re looking at is the shots and the cut to cut to cut sequence of images. But it’s a great story, and the simplicity of the craft doesn’t mean that it isn’t meticulously conceived and executed. So that’s what I tell my kids (and yeah, they’re not kids, but from this side of the big 6-0, they all seem that way to me). It doesn’t take fantastic chops and preternatural skill to make a good movie. But, as Richard Feynman said in a different context (I paraphrase) elementary doesn’t mean something is easy; it just means you don’t need to know a lot to achieve an extraordinary result.
That, I hope, helps them through some of the tsuris to come when they get stuck deep into the making of their own films, a few weeks down the road.
So, without further review…a little, simple, highly enjoyable bit of movie-making:
And with that: the thread, it is open.