A crash course in moviemaking

Beginning Film Production Workshop students create their own films from start to finish.

By Katherine O’Rourke, Staff Writer

FADE IN: Aspiring filmmakers arrive in Cinema 101 to get first-hand experience in every aspect of movie making. The big finish: The opportunity to show their projects to a live audience in an annual screening at Valley College.

A 1-minute film may not sound like a daunting task to outsiders, but the students debuting their films Oct. 11 know better. Beginning with a script concept, the aspiring filmmakers are subjected to baptism by fire by way of working out storyboards, floor plans, casting, scheduling, rehearsals, location scouting, and shot lists; finding equipment, learning editing programs, and of course, shooting the film itself.

Sometimes they can feel like law students – Murphy’s law, the bitter enemy of all film sets – but sometimes obstacles are the best teachers.

“I had a mishap when the camera battery died and, not having a backup, we were down for an hour waiting for it to charge. But all in all, everything came off without any major hitches, and I learned to always have a backup for anything,” said Diana DeVille, director of the short, “Patience is a Virtue.”

Cinema 101 is an intense, weekly, four-hour lecture course. Lessons mirror the ongoing development and production of the 1-minute projects. While brainstorming, students learn the structure of storytelling in a visual format with floor plans of their sets and storyboards of each individual shot. Just before each film’s weekend of production, the professors go over proper lighting regarding situation and tone, as well as how to get the best sound possible on a low-budget project. The process and lessons of editing go hand in hand by way of a learn-by-doing approach.

“Film students absolutely need to take this class. It goes through the history of film and all of the technical aspects, giving you all the slang and terminology. When you finally have your first day on a set, you know exactly what everyone is talking about,” said Laura Manning, director of the short, “Misplaced”.

Current Cinema 101 students are strongly advised to attend the Annual Student Screening. Beginning filmmakers coming to this event can see finished projects, meet with students who completed their work, and practice the art of networking – which may come in handy very soon.

“Don’t be shy. I know it’s hard to ask for help. But the more I do it the more I realize that people really want to be a part of something,” said Jesus Padilla, director of the films “Birth Day Wish” and “Feel Good.”


Staff Writer Katherine O’Rourke is a media arts student with a film in the showcase. 

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