It has been a while since there was a film class at ID. But Sal
Cilella’s, of neighbor Gravity Tank, new course “Story in Motion” has filled that gap in curriculum by avoiding many of the technical and cost issues that eventually sunk the original ID film program. Taught in two parts and split across A and B session, the course focuses on pre-production and post production, leaving out the tech and time intensive production of actually shooting original video. However, in both classes, the core is storytelling.
The pre-production course had IDers bring a story from a previous
class that needed to be told. From there, they followed industry
practices of formal critique writing to advance and refine the
projects. In the end, rather than creating videos from existing
footage, each student created and animatic, or animated story board
using their preferred animation software. The stories ranged from
vignettes depicting ethnographic research to use-case scenarios for new
Watch an example Animatic from the A-session course Bazooka and the Cigar Shop By Gabriel Biller
The second course half of the course looked at the other end
of the process. Rather than bring a story, Sal gave the class a reel of
unused footage from a previous research project. From there, with about
25 minutes of interview and observation, the class split up to try and
find the story threads that could be brought together into a coherent
short video piece from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes, depending on
the requirements of the story.
I sat in on the preview screenings of the final videos and was
pleasantly surprised. The clips were entertaining, and I loved seeing
the extreme variety of stories that cold be pulled from one interview,
but the students’ critiques were even better. I asked Sal how he fostered such a
good culture of critique in the class he told me that his strategy was
to put people into pairs early to force them to verbalize the editing
decisions they were making as well as to simply produce a lot of
iterations and solicit feedback.
Finally, I asked how the students thought that going through
this process would change they way they work in other projects. It is
quite a different focus than most projects in other classes. In a design planning class
you try to find the best and smartest way to approach a topic. In this
class, you can only tell stories that are latent in the footage from
research. I think that made an impact on at least a few students.
“I will think more about how I will need to communicate my research as I plan and conduct it.”
This is the answer I expected. It seemed that becoming more conscious of
the process would lead to more planning and strategizing. But it was
another comment that piqued my interest.
“I will shoot more video and pictures than I think I’ll need.”
This was a great answer because it is so simple, but so
effective. It reminded me that the story is always there in the research,
and that research is the capturing of raw material where the story is
found, not created.
Unfortunately, examples from the second half of the course cannot be posted since they are made from footage from private interviews.