I’m officially on Easter break! That means I’ve finished my second semester of film school, and in just a couple weeks when I return to class I’ll be starting my final semester of classes. Time is going by way too quickly!
At the end of my first semester last year, I had written a post about my thoughts and experiences of what went down during my first semester and I thought I would continue that trend for the rest of my time at dBs. It could be helpful for any future, prospective film students to read an unfiltered account of what studying at dBs is truly like. It also helps keep me accountable for how productive I’ve been during my time and to help me reflect on what I have, or haven’t accomplished.
If you’ve been reading my updates on this blog, you’ll know by now that last semester was a bit crazy. The school’s curriculum dictated that we had to have a new film every week, on top of that, we had our regular classes to attend and since I’m an overachiever, I was doing a lot of traveling around Europe. Comparatively, this semester in theory should have been less intense because we now had two weeks to complete one film instead of one weekend, and when Nick and I came back from Christmas break, we decided to put a pause on traveling until our friends came up to visit. Since being back, I’ve worked on five separate films — Meet the Diaz’s, Second Chance, Before the Show, Moving Day and Solitary Confinement. This semester had a Director’s limit; meaning, a student couldn’t direct more than one film. So, I was only able to practice my Director’s skills on my film, Moving Day. Otherwise, I’ve primarily been working as a Producer. At the end of last semester, I had said that I wanted to focus more of my attention on Directing, Producing and Editing in the following semester. I can say that I was definitely able to get practice in Producing, but with the Director’s limit I was obviously only able to Direct one film, and while the opportunities to be Editor have been available, I don’t feel like a completely competent editor yet. Obviously, having two weeks versus one weekend to complete a film is preferable because it gives us actual time to bring our stories to life. With the extra time, I think most groups felt it benefited them best where they were able to schedule time in for rehearsals, because last semester we didn’t have the time to do that. Also, I think most groups were able to try shooting in new locations, or shooting in multiple locations because we had the time to shoot over the span of a few days.
Beyond our normal shooting schedule, we also had classes to attend. This semester focused on things like Producing, Writing, Directing, Editing and our normal RoundTable. I was really excited to have a heavier focus on Academics this semester, because I was beginning to feel like we weren’t going to be prepared for all the other parts of Filmmaking that didn’t involve us being on set. I was hoping to learn more about the skin and bones of what Filmmaking is, like what are all the bits and pieces that we have to bring together successfully before stepping onto set. Unfortunately, I feel like the classes lacked in a lot of different ways this semester. I feel like I was always left wanting more. I understand that the course is only a year long, and you can only fit so much in a year, but because it’s only a year long, I’m the type of person who would want to fit as much as I possibly could into that time and get the most I could out of the experience. The Producing and Directing classes were some of my favourite classes that we’ve had; I always left the classes feeling like I’ve learned something new and useful. I feel like there wasn’t enough time scheduled in order to get the full impact of what the class could have potentially taught us. It’s pretty common for the majority of Film students to want to leave school and go into the roles of being a Director or Producer, and with knowing that, I think that the curriculum should have accommodated those interests more. With screenwriting, I find that I struggle a lot; like I can ramble on here for ages and ages and it’s no big deal. Creating an entire world with characters and a fully developed script is something that I struggle with. I can easily come up with concepts and visualize how I want it to look and what kind of shots I’m interested in, but it’s all the other important stuff that I have a hard time with and I was looking forward to learning about writing. I feel like our Writing class was a bit of a joke. We spent most of our time sitting in a circle and telling stories. While there was definitely parts of that that I found helpful and have something that I can takeaway, in general I feel like those classes could have been so much more. I was hoping to learn more structure, format and at least be offered some resources or suggestions to help better ourselves as writers. Our Editing class is something that was carried on into this semester as a continuation from last year. To be quite honest, I think that the layout for the Editing classes have been a bit wayward from the get-go and that didn’t change at all during this semester. When there’s a full class, it always felt like there was too much going on for the Tutor to properly teach a lesson and then go around to students individually to help them further. If you don’t understand the instructions during the lesson, then you’re just left waiting during the practical portion of the class until the Tutor can come help you and that’s just a waste of time.
In between classes and shooting, I’ve been apart of creating I Mind Collective. Myself and eight other girls in the Film Diploma and Film Degree program have come together to create an all-female filmmaking crew. Our collective has girls from all over the world; from Canada and the USA to Italy and loads of different places in between. Our goal is to use our art to tell the stories and struggles that women in modern society face on a daily basis. We have lots of different projects in the making right now, but our attention is primarily focused on a feature film we’ve been working on creating together. It’s been a really cool, challenging project so far! I’m excited to see where I Mind takes us.
All in all, this semester has had its ups and downs. I feel like the films we’ve been able to put forth this term have been substantially better in comparison to last semester. With the extended time we have to work on our films, we actually have enough time to properly work through the steps of Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production. There’s actually a couple of films that I’m happy to say I worked on in some capacity! I think that a lot of the classes were lacking. Lucky for me, filmmaking is something that can be largely self-taught and I can likely find resources to further the knowledge that I do have in my own time. It sucks when you’re paying for a service and are left feeling like you could have gotten more for you’re time and money.
While I am in no way ready for Film school to end, I’m looking forward to our final semester and everything that goes along with it. During our first week back, we will be pitching our stories to a panel of judges (our Tutors), and based on their decision, ten different students will be selected! I’m hoping by the end of my Easter break, I’ll have something really solid put together that I can present during Pitching Week and hopefully get selected. Wish me luck!