8 August 2011
The Wizard of Oz is a fitting metaphor for the student experience in the Film & Television Production Program at Humber College. It is easy to get caught up in the technological whirlwind of media production as the rapid proliferation of hardware and software tools transforms the New Media landscape. At Humber College, we try to stay grounded by teaching a curriculum that has evolved over forty years, while encouraging and supporting innovation, experimentation, and exploration in formal execution. The foundation of this curriculum is story.
Students begin in the first year of the three-year program learning all aspects of filmmaking, including screenwriting, directing, lighting, sound, and editing. Each student makes a film individually, for which they must fill all positions themselves. The students learn the foundational lesson that all aspects of making a film interdependent and are fundamentally linked to the original screenplay. This is also the only project that allows the student to work independently, as the rest of the curriculum is completed in teams.
In second year, students collaborate to produce documentaries. They write, develop, and research the projects before shooting and editing. Students are enrolled in a course called “Computer Multimedia,” in which they learn how to use Adobe® After Effects®, Photoshop®, and Illustrator®. The students immediately employ the skills learned in the course to design creative credit sequences, which resonate with the content of their documentaries.
Then the students review all the “Studio Drama” projects written and developed as part of a rigorous scriptwriting class and vote for the best ones, which then move forward to production. The assignment must be shot on film in a studio, with no more than two locations and a small cast. Often these limitations lead students to write stories with elaborate visual effects that allow imaginary worlds to come alive. For example, this past season the studio drama projects included a film entitled “Teresa’s Tummy”, in which a seven-year-old girl with cancer escapes her reality by being transported into the belly of a whale. Much of the belly environment will be created using Adobe After Effects.
Filmmakers say the planned effects are subtle, but will help to complete the character’s imaginary world.
The third year is our program’s final year. The students enroll in an “Independent Projects” course to create their thesis work. They work in large crews of 15 to 20 members, with budgets ranging from $6000 to $8,000 and face formidable production challenges. In recent years, they have created highly successful films that made extensive use of the Adobe Creative Suite®.
“Adventures of Owen” is a short film about a boy who escapes his feelings of isolation at school and at home by transporting himself, through his own drawings, into an extra-terrestrial world. Writer/Director/VFX Supervisor and Animator, David Cadiz used Adobe Flash®, After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator to create his animations. David spent weeks working on the film and could not have created the film without Adobe tools.
He recently won the Toronto Screen Critics Best Student Feature Award for “Adventures of Owen.” The film was also selected for the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children.
"Adventures of Owen” is an excellent example of a film with a strong story that called for extensive use of special effects and animation. It is true to the philosophy of the FMTV program, that all techniques and effects must first and foremost serve the story.
Below are some links to clips that show the creation of his sequences.
Our third year productions often feel like an exhilarating storm of creative problem solving, collaboration, innovation, and experimentation. Students create a multiplicity of worlds, from medieval, to apocalyptic, to romantic magical realism. Our talented students use their imaginations to create films that weave together elements of ‘the real’ and visual effects. At the end of the program, the students click their heels together and graduate into a new reality – they become film professionals. The experience of going to film school at Humber College allows them to explore their passions, to understand the power of storytelling, and trains them to use tools of the trade to realize their visions.
And while it would be tempting to write “The End,” it is really just the beginning for our graduates, and for technology’s impact on the future of storytelling in film.