Imaginative Ownership: Nurturing the Peer Group Community in Film at Degree Level

By Daniel Whistler.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

How a regular group seminar and team projects can go beyond the limitations of the one to one tutorial, towards a richer experience of shared and simultaneous ‘voyages’ into film. Encouraging the students’ self-discipline over attendance, their time and generosity over giving advice and practical help, the tutor-practitioner here becomes the enabler for groups, around the table, on location and in front of the screen, to involve each other and teach themselves. It also makes more efficient use of actual tuition. Live Action film making seems a particularly suitable vehicle here, partly because it is so time taking, but also because it is instantly both practical and philosophical. However quite different disciplines can possibly relate to this approach where we make a virtue of numbers, promote cohesion and companionship. Debate and peer group contact over time then leads to a much deeper and increasingly more articulate individual grasp of the challenges and possibilities of the medium. Growing confidence in teams and groups in turn becomes a highly transferable skill for graduates, irrespective of whether they finally enter the media or not. A collaborative film project for mixed teams of Theater Design and Visual Communication BA students in their second year began in what was an otherwise highly individualistic environment. It has run ten years keeping continuity of teaching and structure. Many come to it quite new to film, thrown together for 8 weeks for the entire genesis and production of their short film, from initial group ideas through set design, acting, lighting, sound recording, shooting to fine cut. The key has been to engage the students’ own creative ‘engine’. Some competitiveness is positive too: 5 or 6 teams working to a set schedule create their own films keenly aware of other productions around them. Illustrated with short film extracts with a brief overview of the parameters, structure, logistics and philosophy. This has encouraged the sharing of individual Live Action projects in the third year through a sustained weekly seminar run by a film practitioner-tutor, where all carefully discuss each others work in progress, including the tutor’s.

Keywords: Live Action Film, Tutor-Practitioner, Theater Design, Collaboration, Peer Group Community, Confidence and Transferable Skills

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.115-120. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 533.410KB).

Daniel Whistler

Lecturer in Visual Communication, Dept of Visual Communication, Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, BCU, Birmingham City University, West Midlands, UK

Daniel Whistler is a film maker, illustrator and lecturer with fifteen years experience tutoring student film teams at two universities. He has TV directing credits from 1983, with documentaries for C4, ITV and BBC. A recent 52 min “The Battle of the Ganges” went to 11 film festivals with 4 prizes and was broadcast in 7 countries, produced whilst a research active lecturer at BCU. He has directed and shot dramas combining improvisation with the search for specific metaphorical imagery, such as the recent “Heatsource” selected for the Houston Film Festival, Indian Short Film Festival and Independent Digital Film Festival.


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