After Christmas you should get down fully to the task of developing the students ideas for their practical work. Here a few ground rules for this period.
- Your overall starting point is ‘What do I have access to?’ (see exercises 1-11) and not what do I want to make. The film idea should emerge from this.
- The sequence of development should be flexible. It is better to start with a good idea for a shot and work backwards from this but there are any number of ways you can arrive at your final production any which yields results is valid.
- Keep it simple. The most successful coursework submissions are those that recognise the parameters of the short film as a distinct medium, don’t get into complicated narratives and make the idea fit its space. (See BBC Film Network for many examples of excellent 15 second narratives)
- Avoid ‘Public Information Film’ type solutions. The student’s first ideas will likely revolve around bullying, suicide, drugs awareness and these ‘moralising’ themes. The first few years of the course have seen a rash of these and while there are no prohibited subjects for their work, these kinds of solutions tend to be sterile and obvious. The biggest assessment criteria is creativity and the product’s subject should be secondary to that.
- Don’t forget the audience. Hitchcock likened his working of the audience to playing an organ. An audience can be misled, amused, shocked, frightened, puzzled, fed selective information (restricted narrative) and made to cry. Your approach should always be underpinned with the desired effect on the audience. If the student remembers this then issues, for example, such as tedious, unedited work will not arise.
‘I once thought drama was when the actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries’ Frank Capra
Ideas development should be done in pairs and groups wherever possible. The best ideas come from bouncing ideas back and forth. As always, dip into these exercises as is appropriate for your own situation.