Sunday, February 1, 2009

Film Making Essential to Media Literacy

I, like many other secondary English teachers, am excited by the ever-growing interest and development of media literacy in education. English teachers are now helping students read and create a wide range of twenty-first century texts.

Although film has been around for nearly a century, it is only recently that students can fully experience the film making process. With the availability of digital cameras and free editing software, students can now make films with ease. Most inexpensive digital cameras now come with video recording. However, video recording is not required; instead, stop motion is a creative and effective film style that can be accomplished using digital pictures.

The film making process can be divided into 5 easy steps:

1) Film codes and conventions: Before my students begin their film project, I always teach a few lessons on film codes and conventions. Although most students are immersed in film and television, many students are not conscious of the thinking that goes into camera angles, background music, lighting, and etcetera.

2) Storyboarding: The most important stage in film making. Storyboarding looks like comics without the talk bubbles. This task is crucial so that filming goes well.

3) Filming: The filming stage is dependent upon the task given. If the task requires students to film in different locales, a schedule is required.

4) Editing: Editing can be done on a variety of free software. The two preferred programs are Windows Movie Maker for Windows and iMovie for Mac. Both programs have the ability to edit video, add transitions, add titles, and create effects.

5) Presenting: The presentation portion of the film making process is crucial because it gives students the opportunity to explain their decisions. Through the presentation, students can make connections to other texts, discuss particular conventions, and reflect upon the film making process.

The benefits of film making for students

* Students are excited by the idea of trying something new
* Students have quick learning curve when it comes to cinematic conventions
* Students are able to express ideas and narratives that they are not able to through writing
* Film making builds cooperation, organization, and communication skills
* Students understand and appreciate the art of film

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