I recently had the honor of leading a number of high school educators through a production workshop as part of the Association of Career and Technical Education of Arizona, Summer Conference 2014. We train the trainer; teachers that train youth in high school programs that prepare students to enter the workforce with the academic and vocational skills needed to compete successfully in the job market.
The highlight of the workshop is an all-day exercise called the Feature Film Challenge, where each student recreates one shot of a scene from a popular feature film. The goal is an exploration in visual continuity in the art and craft of cinematography. We provide the tools and guidance, and in the process the students learn not just the technicalities of lighting and camera, but the concepts and motivations to make creative choices that drive the story.
We bring a lot of equipment for students to examine and put to practical use. With a full lighting and grip package and a number of cameras that range from Canon DSLRs to the Sony F55, students are exposed to the equipment of the craft. As is so often during a workshop with an abundance of resources, we often hear the gear referred to as “toys”.
Let us nip that in the bud and diffuse that sentiment. We work with tools, not toys. Tools get the job done, toys entertain. The term “toys” demeans the integrity of the vocation. As professional craftspeople, we need to uphold the significance of our instruments, and we do this by leading the edge of innovation and application of such in the pursuit of engaging and relevant imagery, for this goes beyond accessibility to the tools and circles back to the root of this business, the business of storytelling.
In the end, it comes down to heart, wisdom and intellect, not readily available off-the-shelf nor acquired solely by the abundance of paint and brushes.