DMA Central

THE OFFICIAL COMMUNITY FOR DIGITAL MEDIA ACADEMY

Directing Film: All About the Perfs

By Katy Scoggin – Lead Instructor Hands On Digital Filmmaking for Teens

Right now I’m in the pre-production phase of a short film I’ll be shooting at the end of March. The project is a collaboration between me—I’m the writer/director—and a group of actors from the graduate acting program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

As a writer/director, I constantly have to communicate my vision to a bunch of collaborators: my actors, my DP (director of photography or cinematographer), my production designer, and my editor. But on set, when the camera is rolling, my most important relationship is with my actors. Directing is more about shaping and tweaking and discussing performances than anything else. It requires an ability to communicate, a strong will, great listening skills, and—perhaps more than anything else—concentration. Concentrating on performance, and knowing when you’ve got what you need, is immensely challenging to do in an environment where dozens of people and lights and equipment are always hovering just outside the frame. But once you’re in the cutting room, and you get to savor arresting performances, the hard work really pays off.

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Hands-On Digital Filmmaking: Collaboration is Key! Film Camp

By Katy Scoggin – Lead Instructor Hands On Digital Filmmaking for Teens

Last August, I taught Hands On Digital Filmmaking for Teens at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The class was a really successful exercise in collaboration and one of the highlights of my summer. I think everybody realized during that week that what you can accomplish as a group is a lot bigger than what you can create on your own.

It took me a lot of years to realize the value of teamwork. As a high school student, I loathed group projects because they always meant the same thing: I would end up doing all the work for several people. What a drag.

Since becoming a filmmaker, though, I’ve learned that teamwork is not about a bunch of slackers and the over-achievers who pick up after them. Real teamwork is about getting a bunch of creative minds together, bouncing ideas off one another, distributing work evenly and according to different folks’ strengths, and eventually coming up with a project that is bigger—and far cooler—than what any member of the group could have created alone.

That’s what my Philly students did last summer in the film camp course. They began by working individually on script ideas, which they later pitched to the class. Everybody got really excited about one student’s thriller idea. The story is about a girl who reveals the identity of a serial killer by posting a video of his latest murder on YouTube. After developing the script to suit everyone’s taste, we cast the project with some of our more performative members and broke the script down according to location.

Everyone who was interested in shooting—including the actors—had the opportunity to get behind the camera. Other students learned how to slate each take as camera assistants; lock the set down and watch for oncoming pedestrians as production assistants; and hold the boom pole as sound recordists. Everybody always had a job to do. And if each individual hadn’t held his or her own weight, we would not have completed the movie in such a short time span.

They say each movie is made three times: First you write it. Then you shoot it. Then you edit. After our two-day production period was over, we hunkered down and started to put the movie together. If you’ve ever written a paper, you understand that editing is basically rewriting. It’s the same in the cutting room: once you put the images you’ve captured into order, you can reorder them in a thousand different ways. Finding the best way to tell a visual story is one of the most challenging and, ultimately, most gratifying aspects of filmmaking.

In our digital film class, we decided to keep things collaborative through to the end: Each student picked one scene to edit, after which we cut the entire story together. At the end of the week, when we screened our short film for parents, I think everybody was happily surprised to see how much they’d been able to accomplish as a group in just one short week. The experience was a great one, and I look forward to having more like it this summer!

Learn more about DMA Teen Film Courses and Summer Computer Camps

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Extreme Sports Filmmaking Courses : Film Camps

There are a couple reasons why one of my first blogs is about DMA’s Action Sports & Media Combination Courses (Skate Boarding & Filmmaking / Surfing & Filmmaking). The first reason is that this is where I got my start with filmmaking. Upon Graduating from the UCSC film school, my first completed film was a 30 min snowboard and skateboarding film. I traveled to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Colorado to premiere the film. It was such an incredible feeling to have my work up on the big screen and evaluated by my peers. The second reason why I write about these courses is because that is what I am working on right now. In fact I my house is covered with snow and I have been getting some amazing footage.

The idea came up for these courses when Dave Livingston – DMA’s Director of Instruction – asked me if there were any filmmaking courses that I wish I could have taken in college that weren’t available. Immediately, I thought it would be so cool to have taken a video production class with curriculum that taught actions sports cinematography and editing techniques. The classes were born and they have been a huge success. In these classes we teach students how to plan, shoot, edit, and produce their own action sports videos. At the end of each course the students even get the chance to premiere their film on the “big screen”, in front of classmates, family, and friends. It is really just awesome what they accomplish in 5 days while having so much fun!

Check out a couple of videos that one talented student Evan created while taking one of our DMA’s Action Sports & Media Combination Courses.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgJV5YPnVew
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMOaIKhz6lg
Until next time,

Travis Schlafmann

DMA Instructor/ Cinematographer & Editor

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have Comments (2)

Film Camp for Teens : Create, Write, Act, Produce, and Edit

Make a movie at Digital Media Academy Film Camp for Teens!

I have had the pleasure of being able to attend, direct, assist, and co-instruct all levels of DMA’s filmmaking programs, but I just wanted to talk about the youth film camp programs for a moment. We’ve seen a lot of girls very interested in the film industry and these film camps. Both guys and girls get the chance to work in a real world film set and get a taste of the movie making action.  Teen and youth students get the opportunity to create their own movie from scratch during the 5 day summer camp. The class starts with brainstorming creative story ideas and actually writing a movie script. Throughout the week-long bootcamp style filmmaking course students are able to write the script, act in the scenes, scout out shooting locations, shoot the film, edit the video with a pro level app like Apple’s Final Cut Pro, and produce their own DVD to take home. What a week! 

DMA students get to act as a producer, screenwriter, actor / actress, director, scout, art director, digital video editor, and more! This is a truly amazing experience. 

teen film camp - Making a Movie

I have a lot of great memories across many of our university campuses with a green screen, mic boom, or extra camera trying to get in one last video shoot for the film camp. These film courses are always fun and creative. The learning experience is hands-on and directly duplicates being on the set making, acting, and directing a Hollywood picture. The camera equipment, audio equipment, lighting kits, and computer & software technology is always the best available.

Digital Media Academy also offers similar Film Camps for Kids and Filmmaking Courses for Pro Adults in addition to the Teen Film Camps.

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Skate + Film Camp : Make a Skateboard Movie at DMA!

Make a skateboarding film at DMA teen summer computer and technology camps! This is a great way to learn how to make a skateboard video. Watch the experiences of actual students that filmed and editing video of professional skateboarders during the Skate and Filmmaking class at Digital Media Academy. This same course is offered this summer at many prestigious university locations in the United States and Canada.

Learn more about the Skate & Film Camp on the course page. Watch the video below to see actual students’ experiences at the DMA’s summer camp programs…

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNYvLX1DGBc

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Digital Filmmaking Bootcamp @ Stanford University

Last summer the Digital Media Academy offered a brand new filmmaking course and I was honored that they had chosen me to teach the class. The course was Digital Filmmaking Bootcamp and it was a huge success. We wanted to create a class where students could come in and learn every aspect of filmmaking in five action packed days. That’s exactly what we did and it resulted in one of the best screenings in any of my closing DMA film festivals.

The typical student that enrolls in Digital Filmmaking Bootcamp comes in with a little or no filmmaking experience, but leaves with a movie that they shot, edited, and compressed for DVD and web. We shoot with professional Sony HD cameras and edit with screaming fast Macs on Final Cut Pro. In fact, at times I found myself jealous that my students have better equipment to learn with, than the equipment I have at my studio to produce content with ;) .

Before teaching the class, I knew it would be a busy 5 days but I had no idea how much fun I would have teaching it. When the screening came we had 20 students with 20 amazing films to watch. It was an incredibly rewarding experience to watch students learn how to plan, shoot, edit, and distribute their films in such a short amount of time. I invite you to watch a couple of the videos that I posted from this class.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5F9xed74Q8

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRa0F8kkAqk

Both of these videos were created from students that had no experience shooting or editing. They are definitely two different genres but both videos are an amazing success for students with no prior experience.

You can also check out the Teen Filmmaking Bootcamp Courses geared specifically to teens or the Kids Film & Movie Making Courses.

Till next time,
Travis Schlafmann
DMA Instructor/Cinematographer & Editor

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments

Girls and Technology … and DMA

When I was an engineering student over ten years ago at the University of Illinois, I was often one of a few girls in classes of 50 to 100 students.  I knew every girl in each graduating class of my engineering program.   We rallied around each other, aware that the low representation of girls in our engineering classes was possibly, though unintentionally, discouraging young girls from pursuing technical fields of study.

Now that I am working for a company focusing on providing creative, computer-based experiences for kids and teens, I am grateful to see that my experience as an engineering college student is no longer the norm.  Increasingly, girls are exploring new areas of interest.  Last summer, we had over 300 girls take classes here at the Digital Media Academy, in areas like filmmaking, web design, video game creation, robotics and animation.young-girl-in-class

The most popular courses taken by girls, both in our Teen program and in our Adventures program, were filmmaking courses.  In fact, across all of our locations, Hands-on Filmmaking for Teens averaged 42% girls and 58% boys at both beginning and advanced levels.  In some weeks, the number of girls actually exceeded the number of boys!  At a younger age, our Adventures in Movie Making and Special Effects course, for kids ages 9-13, averaged 32% girls and 68% boys.  The most popular class for girls in our Adventures program was Adventures in Web Design and Flash, which averaged 47% girls and 53% boys.

Taking a closer look at what courses girls are choosing, there are some common themes.   Both filmmaking and web design, while deeply technical, are also very relational and creative areas of exploration.  Our filmmaking courses are designed to have students work in groups, from creating a storyboard to post-production editing.  The experience is very relational, and the end product is a film that communicates and expresses the group’s creativity.  Our web design courses also serve a similar purpose.  While the work itself is less group based, the end product is an individual web site that distinctively communicates each student’s creative expression to the world.

Perhaps these common themes can help make some of our other classes more popular to girls.  Historically in our summer camp program, the ratio of boys to girls in classes like video game creation and robotics is 10 to 1.  What can be done to make these classes more attractive to girls?teen-girl-at-computerAre the topics, inherently less a vehicle for communication, less attractive to girls by nature?  Or, in video game creation, are there different types of games that may be more appealing to girls?  Or, like my engineering classes in college, are these classes less attractive simply because of the historically lower representation of girls?

Whatever the answers to these questions, we will continue exploring and will certainly do our best to make all of our DMA experiences meaningful to boys and girls alike!

[Bloglines] [del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Furl] [Google] [LinkedIn] [Mixx] [MySpace] [Newsvine] [Propeller] [Reddit] [Squidoo] [StumbleUpon] [Twitter] [Email]
posted by DMA Jordan in News Blog and have No Comments