Teaching Philosophy and Selective Classes
With each production, documentary filmmaking becomes an exciting and new journey for me. I have learned over the years that a director must focus on the following: excellent research, a deep understanding of narrative story structure, flexibility in problem solving- both technical and visual, and solid creative team building. These insights are at the core of my teaching objectives. I lay a very strong foundation so that students may transition into the professional world with greater ease and knowledge. My experience has allowed me to create work from a “seed” of an idea to full production on feature films. This process has fostered my inspiration to teach and assist students so they may enhance their own creative choices.
Film education should expand beyond the research and production periods. It is very important that students have knowledge of the administrative aspect of filmmaking such as: obtaining fiscal sponsorship, writing grants, proposals, treatments, and scripts, as well as a greater understanding of marketing and distribution. It is my aim throughout the year to lace in this very crucial information, so that students not only can complete a film, but also understands how to market and distribute their work successfully. My penchant for detail has allowed me to develop classes/syllabi that function as blueprints into the world of film production. Students can continue to use these guidelines through out their careers.
I view the classroom as an environment for growth, discovery and exploration. Students are presented with material that is reflective of a film discourse that encompasses, aesthetics, history and the influence of digital technology. I introduce and discuss film using three-dimensional methods, so that the student’s experience can be visceral. In my Documentary Portraiture class when screening the Academy nominated Genghis Blues I invited one of the directors for a Q&A, as well as a Tuvan throat singer, in order that students experience a deeper appreciation for this unique subject matter. The response from students was very positive. Direct contact with successful filmmakers helps students learn from others’ creative triumphs and pitfalls, as well as their own.
A critical priority for me is continually updating resources for my classes and presenting current and thought-provoking films. I also interweave the classics of documentary filmmaking to further enhance class discourse. Screening both past and present modes of cinema informs the students on a greater level.
I encourage the creation of film journals. This allows the students to consider film content, style and aesthetics, so they may begin to develop ideas about their own work, as well as start to formulate critical analytic skills. I also suggest that they explore and respond in these journals to other forms of visual art, so their cinematography may begin to take cues from different sources such as still photography and painting. Journaling is a vital tool that enhances the student’s reflective and artistic process.
Students can thrive in an atmosphere where their work receives personalized attention. I feel responsible as an educator to foster experimentation and self-discovery while still giving students honest and direct evaluations of their progress. The life-professional experience that I bring to mentorship is supportive and enthusiastic. It is inspiring to me to be part of the process of emerging artists, including identifying and assisting the students with their independent vision.
Selective Classes Taught
Documentary Portraiture focuses on biographic films of unique individuals living under extraordinary circumstances. This class is organized by subject matter explored through the unique approaches and perspectives of different directors. Modern Documentary surveys “issue” and political films of the past 20 years.
Experimental Documentaries reviews directors who push the boundaries and the language of documentary filmmaking with their avant-garde techniques.
Creative Process in Film deconstructs modes of accessing one’s own artistic methods. The core objective of the class is to present new approaches to understanding and taping into “ creative ideas”, so that students may expand and intensify their filmmaking practice.
Narrative Story Structure assists students in understanding how to construct story lines, characters and overall themes in documentary filmmaking using classic screenwriting’s methodology. Interview Techniques covers successful methods of interviewing subjects. Students learn how to draw deeper information so that they may develop content in a manner that is informative and innovative.
Producing and Marketing film the administrative process of producing and distributing Film.
Other Film Classes included
- History of Documentary film 1 and 2
- Female Documentary directors historical perspective
- Documentaries from the around the world-international docs- world social issues
- Cinema verite masters, leacock, pennebaker, wiseman, maysles brothers and kim Longinotto
- Documentary hybrids, post post – use collage, animation and technical innovation to tell the story.
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