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Cinematography and Screenwriting class debuts this semester

Gathering+clips+for+their+first+assignment%2C+seniors+MJ+Stricker%2C+Matthew+Showers+and+Carson+Lolley+film+in+the+theatre.+Students+were+tasked+with+creating+a+30+second+film+inspired+by+the+techniques+filmmaker+Lev+Kuleshov.+%E2%80%9CI+like+having+a+simple+task+so+I+can+be+more+creative+in+the+filmmaking+process%2C%E2%80%9D+Lolley+said.+%E2%80%9CI%E2%80%99m+excited+to+keep+working+on+bigger+and+better+projects+throughout+the+semester.%E2%80%9D
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Cinematography and Screenwriting class debuts this semester

Gathering clips for their first assignment, seniors MJ Stricker, Matthew Showers and Carson Lolley film in the theatre. Students were tasked with creating a 30 second film inspired by the techniques filmmaker Lev Kuleshov. “I like having a simple task so I can be more creative in the filmmaking process,” Lolley said. “I’m excited to keep working on bigger and better projects throughout the semester.”

Gathering clips for their first assignment, seniors MJ Stricker, Matthew Showers and Carson Lolley film in the theatre. Students were tasked with creating a 30 second film inspired by the techniques filmmaker Lev Kuleshov. “I like having a simple task so I can be more creative in the filmmaking process,” Lolley said. “I’m excited to keep working on bigger and better projects throughout the semester.”

Susie Seidel

Gathering clips for their first assignment, seniors MJ Stricker, Matthew Showers and Carson Lolley film in the theatre. Students were tasked with creating a 30 second film inspired by the techniques filmmaker Lev Kuleshov. “I like having a simple task so I can be more creative in the filmmaking process,” Lolley said. “I’m excited to keep working on bigger and better projects throughout the semester.”

Susie Seidel

Susie Seidel

Gathering clips for their first assignment, seniors MJ Stricker, Matthew Showers and Carson Lolley film in the theatre. Students were tasked with creating a 30 second film inspired by the techniques filmmaker Lev Kuleshov. “I like having a simple task so I can be more creative in the filmmaking process,” Lolley said. “I’m excited to keep working on bigger and better projects throughout the semester.”

By Susie Seidel, Parkway West High School

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After one year preparing and researching, theater department Head Amie Gossett began teaching a new fine art course titled Cinematography and Screenwriting.

The idea for the class arose at a meeting of fine art department leaders in the district discussing the sequence of classes, and what could potentially lead into the Advanced Broadcasting class.

“I suggested that we have a screenwriting or cinematography class or both, and somehow in the discussion of the meeting we decided that we were going to do this class and that I was going to pilot it for the district and develop the curriculum for it,” Gossett said. “That way there is a track for kids to go the film route to Broadcasting and Production.”

To plan the curriculum, Gossett obtained information through books, online resources and guidance from other teachers. English teacher Dan Barnes had experience with teaching and scoring screenplays as part of his Creative Writing curriculum, and  values the takeaways screenwriting provides for students.

“I think there is great value in the sort of structured, technical writing that comes from screenwriting,” Barnes said. “It allows students to be creative in a structured format and forces them to be aware of their audience.”

After looking over Barnes’ previous rubrics and approaches to teaching these topics, as well as further research, Barnes and Gossett mapped out the curriculum for Cinematography and Screenwriting.

We’re taking small, attainable things that hold a lot of information and require a lot of thought in creation, but not a lot to produce.”

— Amie Gossett

“I took some classes and pulled some resources over the summer. Before I left for a weeklong workshop I went to, Mr. Barnes and I sat down and created the curriculum,” Gossett said. “We had the curriculum down and had collected our thoughts on it, then I went to this film camp and texted him when I was there and was like ‘hey guess what? We’re going to meet again and we’re going to completely redo this.”

Following this realization, Gossett planned the current curriculum in order to best meet the needs of students and eventually allow for an Advanced Cinematography and Screenwriting class to provide greater opportunity for more extensive projects in the future.

“We’re taking small, attainable things that hold a lot of information and require a lot of thought in creation, but not a lot to produce,” Gossett said. “That’s the way we’ve approached it so that if kids did sign up for Advanced, they have a package of the basics that can expand.”

While senior Derek Isele will not be able to fully experience the path Gossett has planned for students interested in film, he values the opportunity of being able to take the class his final semester of high school.

“I do want to go on to become a screenwriter, so I’m doing this [class] and then going off to college so I’ll have all of the information fresh in my mind,” Isele said.

Sophomore Sarenna Wood believes this class could help guide her as she is less certain of her future career path.

“In eighth grade I directed a one-act and it was really fun, so I always thought it would be interesting to get into directing. I really don’t know much about movies, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn more,” Wood said.

Gossett hopes students who elect to take Cinematography and Screenwriting will not only learn about movies and filmmaking, but transferable skills for any path beyond high school.

“Ultimately, I want kids to be able to have something to put into a portfolio to get them further in life,” Gossett said. “Those are things employers and colleges are looking for, even if it’s not that they’re interested in pursuing a film career, they’re still obtaining skills to help them later in life, and that’s how I think all classes should be approached.”

This story was originally published on Pathfinder on January 24, 2019.

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