When I moved to Germany to attend film school, I didn’t really know what to expect. Sure, I had read through the school’s website and understood the program description, but from previous experience in post-secondary, I knew that what is advertised isn’t always what is taught. What brought me to dBs Film Berlin was the program’s promise of being a hands-on, practical based program that didn’t focus on tests, homework or theoretical assignments. As a prospective filmmaker, I found that this approach to learning the tools of the trade would be more valuable to me in the future. For the most part, that has remained true…
During my Induction Week at dBs Film Berlin, the students that were in charge of taking the groups of new students around campus and to the icebreaker events had all mentioned the same thing about the film program, you start making films right out of the gate. For me, I thought that this was great! Prior to coming to dBs Film Berlin, I had some experience with filmmaking from attending school previously and was familiar with cameras and lighting techniques from my small photography business. Being able to apply these skills immediately was exactly what I wanted. But, as the program continued and we started working on more complicated projects, I began to feel that this approach of learning filmmaking right out of the gate maybe isn’t the best in a broad spectrum approach. Everyone who came to dBs Film Berlin had a varying understanding of filmmaking and because of the way the curriculum is laid out, this variance in capability and knowledge became very apparent on set. It was obvious that some people had never heard of a shot list or had never held a camera before, and that’s totally fucking cool, we’ve all come to school to learn about this stuff. But, I think it might have been better to have a bit more structure in the beginning of the course to give everyone the same fighting chance from the get-go. From my perspective as a student, I wonder if the productions that we were rolling out would be better overall if the curriculum was flipped. I think I would still want that intense filmmaking schedule of creating something new every week, but maybe having more substance in the classroom when it comes to conceptualizing a story and turning it into a good film.
As I said before, during the first semester of school, we would have to turn out a new short-film every week. On Sunday evening, we would receive our Brief which would outline our Creative Limitation, Technical Limitation and the roles we were responsible for on set. Each week during class, the tutors would introduce us to different techniques that were of importance chronologically and then also teach us anything that would be applicable to completing our short-films; I.E. CGI. For the most part, I’ve felt that the classes we’ve had have been informative and cover a lot for the short amount of time that we have for each class. Although, I would occasionally find myself feeling frustrated after class because we didn’t have adequate time to go through a lesson and then the next class we would be learning something new, or the tutor’s lesson plan wasn’t organized. With our program being so fast-paced, sometimes it would limit how much time a tutor could focus on teaching us something and if the classes aren’t scheduled and planned out well, you potentially miss out as a student. What I do appreciate about the learning dynamic is that it isn’t your stereotypical Professor VS Student where the Professor is God and everything they say is law. The tutors at dBs Film Berlin are passionate filmmakers who are excited to share their experience and knowledge with other enthusiastic filmmakers; the students.
The first semester was filled with a lot of firsts for me as a creator and as a student; it allowed me to make a lot of mistakes, create a lot of really, really shitty films and decide where I want to focus my energy as a filmmaker. Going into the film program I was interested in learning about anything and everything, and while that is still true, I had different roles that I was more comfortable doing or enjoyed doing; Directing, Producing and Editing. While I still love nearly all aspects of filmmaking, I’m looking forward to developing my skills further in those arenas, especially Directing and Producing. Being a film Director at some point in my life is something that I’ve always aspired to be and I enjoy the challenge that it brings on set. But, the more films I work on, the more I realize that I’m very naturally suited for Producing. My brain is a weird hybrid of organized, analytical thinking but also, artistic and creative. Hopefully in the coming months, I’ll get more experience in Directing and Producing roles and start creating some films that I don’t physically cringe at when watching.