“I can’t believe we just did that.”
Along with a cell phone, the mass media class at Belleville West High School had to include the “I can’t believe” line in their one-scene film that they finished up last week.
Teams of students were also assigned an affective response, camera angle and editing technique that had to be worked into the scene. While teams shot film together, each student edited the raw footage into his or her own short movie, adding music and other effects.
“This class came in really talented,” said teacher Nick Johnson. He’s assigned the video project — riffed from the “48-Hour Film Project” — since 2010. The students use Canon video cameras and Creative Suite editing software that he called “a little dated, but professional” to cut and edit their films, add music and tinker with sound in the clips that last about a minute.
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The project is the third video-making one of the semester and allows the students to put theory and study into practice, Johnson said.
Towhidul Aziz’s group was assigned “happy” and a pan shot with a cross-cutting technique. Towhidul, an exchange student from Bangledesh, said his group quickly decided on a dark comedy in which someone dies. Their movie features cameos of a teacher and school resource officer.
“It’s not supposed to be a happy film, but evoke the emotion,” Towhidul said.
He said his group liked the idea of the dark comedy because the contrast between death and amusement would make it “more hilarious.”
This class came in really talented.
Belleville West teacher Nick Johnson
The difference editing makes in a film was apparent even in the two-minute scenes. Towhidul’s film featured funky music and quick cuts from one face or expression to another. His teammate James Mueller’s film was paced slower and featured an entirely different musical theme; Montey Moran and Rachel Hunter were finishing theirs up on Friday.
Teammates Romeo Spells and Alyssa Volluz, along with Martin Jenkins and Nate Ackermann, had to use an over-the-shoulder shot and fade in editing as well as evoke pity from their viewers.
“Of all the ones I would have rather not gotten — we could have done a really funny video (with the talent on his team) — it’s pity,” Romeo said.
Alyssa said the team collaborated well together from the beginning, with one person popping up with an idea and others playing off of it. Romeo said the group quickly decided against bullying as a rather trite way of evoking pity, but Alyssa said the footage they shot did allow for pity through a non-traditional way.
“He’s bullied by his own grief,” she said, showing her edited version.
“This one started with no drama,” she said, with the lead character being congratulated because “his performance was flawless, he got the prom date, his friend is supportive. Then everything crumbles all at once. That’s where the pity comes in.”
Romeo enlisted his own dad to add footage to his film, allowing him to cut back and forth between the boy and his dad texting while driving. (Romeo assured that’s all editing; his dad was stopped while actually texting.)
“I wanted to make it almost like a PSA (public service announcement),” Romeo said.
What’s next? Classmates will watch all of the videos, and vote on one video to represent each team. Most students were putting final touches on their scenes late Friday afternoon.