Saturday, September 14, 2013

Morgan Nichols & 'How to Make Movies at Home' -- On Screen & in the Classroom

From Morgan Nichols

One thing that's easy:  connecting with the warm-hearted people at the colleges and universities on the Southern Circuit.

One thing that's hard:  finding a Blu-Ray scratch repair kit on the back roads of South Carolina.

Yeah, I can't tell you how it happened but we only got one projection out of the spanking-new Blue-Ray disk before it was fatally scratched.  Luckily, if there's one thing I know about cinema it's that a good story is far more important than High Definition!  So far these audiences have been engaged and engrossed (or so they tell me) and that's 
more important than having a few extra pixels in the frame.  

The workshops I've been teaching have also been a hit.  

At ETSU we spent two and a half hours doing a lighting workshop in their great tv studio.  Just a few students but a whole lot of craft - we ended up going beyond lighting and talking about lens and framing as well.  By the end, each student took a turn setting up a shot that would use light and camera placement to depict a specific kind of character.  Then we went to Quizno's and debated the Coen brothers and which was the best Batman movie.  Awesome.

At Auburn, thirty students attended a class where I gave a presentation on the unique form of directorless improvisational filmmaking (called lo-film) that I've been developing over the last decade+.  The lecture culminated in a brainstorming session where we collectively devised a whole film idea that we could shoot in the beautiful museum we were in.  It was bonkers, but great fun!

At Clemson I presented that same lo-film talk in a one-on-one conversation with professor Sarah Lauro, which we taped for future use.  Sarah was one of several fantastic hosts I've encountered, and we used every minute of our time talking about the political implications of zombie films, which Wes Anderson films were our faves (mine's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.  You heard me.) and about a million other things.

At Presbyterian I taught 25 students the basic vocabulary of film, and then they broke into groups and made one-shot movies with iPads.  Watching the super-short films was a hoot, and we all wished we'd had a little more time.

At each school the Q&A's have been fun.  Here's a taste of what happened when I pass the FlipCam around the audience: