Professional Development Portfolio:
Filmtech with Art Teacher Steve Baris
Last summer I participated in an intensive film workshop at Filmtech, a film school in Philadelphia. I was one of four students working with an instructor; we met all day through every weekend in the month of July. My reason for taking this course was to prepare me for the new video course I offered this year.
The goal of the course was to produce a five to eight-minute scripted narrative film for which we wrote the script/screenplay, acted, scouted locations, acquired props and costumes, operated the camera, the lighting and the sound, directed, and eventually edited.
Even during 100-degree days, we scrambled to numerous locations—interior and exterior—throughout Philadelphia. In some scenes we needed to bring in “extras” (friends and acquaintances) to play the minor roles, but the four students acted for all the main parts. In some locations we had the luxury to set up fairly sophisticated lighting and sound and were able to rehearse our parts and camera angles. Yet other scenes required what is called “run & gun” filmmaking, as we needed to make our shots much more on the fly. In short, it was one of the most intense learning experiences I have ever had.
From such an immersive process, I gained hands-on experience in a wide range of filmmaking practices. Just as important I gained enormous insight about teaching and facilitating this kind of filmmaking experience with my students, which is already paying off in my current course at Shipley.
You can view a small clip from this project entitled The Meter Reader. The film’s story is about an overly cocky (parking) meter reader whose confidence is badly shaken by an incident on the street. Due to some bad language I have limited its viewing to the first two minutes. Although this project needs further editing and refinement, I am proud of what we produced in such an impossibly short time. Finally, I understand now more than ever why I became a visual artist and not an actor.