Tag Archives: documentary

I Are A Genius. Using Filmmaking to Give Students Their Voice…

Every so often a project drops in my lap that I just can’t say “No” to. In the past I have written about the relationship my video production class has had with a group of local artists and filmmakers. The Association for Visual Arts has been kind enough to team up with us to create a pilot project that brings students together with documentarians to learn more about movie making in a professional setting. We made one movie two years ago, “Golden Grillz & Satan Like Puppies: A documentary on rock, rap the individual and the group.” It was not a bad movie and, as I have written before, it was entirely created, produced, shot and directed by the students. It was shown at several venues in the city and the Mayor’s Office has a copy on file.

This year’s movie is called “I Are A Genius” It is a documentary film about students taking a look at their own education. Honestly, I am not too sure they liked whaPromotional poster for "I Are A Genius."t they found. Most were surprised to find out that the education system is run like a business and that money matters as much, if not more, than the educational outcome. They were a bit taken aback to find that teachers and administrators and superintendents don’t all speak with a single voice. There is dissension in the ranks, sometimes vocal, sometimes not. They were also concerned about the number of educational professionals who were afraid to speak out against the system for fear of losing their jobs. We are in a down economy, the school system is making cuts and no one wants to make any waves…even if those waves help the students.

The students learned to set and keep appointments and how to talk to a professional without looking “like a kid.” They set up interviews with elected officials, teachers, administrators, students and even the Superintendent of Schools. They impressed me and they impressed themselves. They also impressed the people they interviewed. They shot and directed their own interviews, shadowed students for an entire day, invited their peers to a “round-table” discussion and even brainstormed some marketing ideas. Right now the group is working on a rough, off-line edit and I have noticed that the number of participants is diminishing. That doesn’t surprise me at all.

Editing video is an art and can be very exacting and very frustrating. It is also tedious and, to an outsider, incredibly boring. It also happens to be the part of film-making that I love the most. I can sit at the editor for hours and never even realize that time has gone by. But I can’t expect these novice directors to have my love of video editing. Nor can I expect them to sit for hours at a time doing anything at all. So the students will be a part of the rough edit helping to choose sound-bites and some B-Roll and to have some say in the direction and flow of the movie. Then one of our visiting artists will take the off-line edit and finish it to industry standard.

Anyway, this is just a little update and as soon as I can, I will post a trailer or excerpt from the movie. Until then, I have included a copy of  the poster for the movie.

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