Filmmaking, the final component of our four part Media Arts curriculum, culminated with the end of the school year and 13 students pitching in The New Flight Awards.
For our MAM students in grades 6-12, 'filmmaking' is something many of them do every day via social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. So when we charged them to create a commercial pitch that included a 4 scene storyboard, many of them ran with the idea, while others were challenged to work backwards from concept to commercial.
Distance learning put into perspective which of our students were art aficionados, especially in domains that required sketching and communicating through visual media. For many, this was their chance to shine and excel using the digital platforms they use everyday, just for fun. To celebrate living and learning in the City of Angels, a city where nearly 40% of the economy resides in creative industries, we kicked off this unit with a guest speaker in every class. Speakers volunteered 30 min to share the broad strokes of their work in advertising and filmmaking.
Since we didn't approach filmmaking in a traditional way, creating a storyboard allowed students to create using all the prior knowledge they learned this year in Graphic Design, Photography and Animation. They were able to sketch, draw, animate or actually film their storyboards and we think they were very successful and creative in accomplishing task!
Ms. Pettus' Class Brainstorm
Sharon Cruz, using Nearpod during Visual Thinking Strategies
Starting with our benchmark practice, we reviewed vocabulary learned in previous units before moving on to group brainstorms and group shotlists. From there, we moved into composing pitch decks that students shared in our final class meeting.
TO SEE OUR FULL RESOURCE PAGE FOR FILMMAKING, CLICK HERE.
To see the full Jamboard used for this Visual Thinking Strategy Brainstorm, go HERE.
Teaching Artist Reflections
Christina's Reflections Learning about filmmaking through the world of advertising has been very engaging for our students! We were lucky enough to have professionals from the advertising industry volunteer to speak with our students about their work and how creative teams strategically reach target audiences with their ads. Trevor Kuhn, a Creative Director at Deutsch LA shared the process of creating a commercial from script to storyboard to final product. Students were thrilled to learn that all the elements of media arts they’ve learned about this year are applied by these professionals at work!
Our guest speaker, Trevor, shared these assets with West Adams Students.
Students were eager to try it themselves and we worked collaboratively to develop a commercial concept that will be ready to pitch to professionals at the New Flight Awards in June. My students from West Adams Preparatory High School were challenged with making a new version of an e-reader that could be appealing to teens and young adults. Students came up with so many creative ideas for how the product could be tweaked to reach a new target audience and brought it to life in a commercial concept and pitch. They each generated an asset for the commercial through film, drawing or GIF making to help our audience visualize their idea. We had a blast and it was so inspiring to see students apply the media arts skills they gained this year, make connections with careers in advertising, and collaborate with their peers over Zoom!
Some samples from students who came up with the idea for a new E-reader, showing the process from brainstorm to storyboard!
Filmmaking as storyboarding was something I found many of my students to already be familiar with since story boarding and planning in a visual way are part of the early middle school curricula. What I wasn't prepared for was how enthusiastic many students would be to show off the others digital media strategies they used this year.
One tip I came away with after teaching this unit was that students needed 1-2 classes of just 'studio work time' where Teaching Artists and Classroom Teachers took the time to provide 1:1 feedback and create a safe space in breakout rooms. In addition to the extended studio time, they also required a lot more modeling and group brainstorms than in previous units.
Students across the board made awesome artwork in his unit but my favorites were made in Ms. Rice's 6th Grade Science class where their job was to make a PSA for kids who watch YouTube that don't know much about recycling. What do you think?