I have experience teaching a broad range of film related topics. I regularly teach; FILM 3315 Classical Film Theory, the only regularly offered required film theory course at the undergraduate level, FILM 2310 Script Analysis, which focuses on screenwriting and structural analysis and FILM 4392 Topics in Cinematography, which focuses on creative use of cameras and lighting.
As an instructor it is my responsibility to foster confidence and creativity while engaging in hands-on technical and analytical learning. Teaching in any creative field presents a set of challenges. Film in particular presents its own unique set of challenges. In the following paragraphs, I will describe those challenges and my approaches to overcoming them.
Balance of technology and creativity. The process of making a film is both intellectually and technically demanding. It is also by its nature, collaborative, thus emphasizing the necessity for confident self expression. A filmmaker must be able to balance creative, emotional meaning with technical limitations and collaborative communication. It is important to ensure students have a firm grasp of physical and technological limitations and the ability to uses those limitations to inform their creative decisions. Conversely, technology can be a source of inspiration and empower creativity. This dialectic is both a source of power in film and its most unique property. It is a major focus in my teaching methodology.
Rigor. It is important that a student feel challenged. By providing students with truly challenging material they are given an opportunity to grow and engage in meaningful ways. While I find positive feedback to be highly effective it is important to provide students with honest commentary on their successes and failures.
Successful failure. One of the most valuable elements of higher education in a creative field is the opportunity to experience failure without consequence. Through failure students learn about their own creativity and begin the process of learning to overcome inner adversity. As an instructor in a creative field I strive to create an environment that fosters creative process by focusing on and analyzing failures. In my classes students are encouraged to discuss their failures and the failures of their peers in meaningful and helpful ways.
Playful and respectful atmosphere. One of the ways I encourage exploration of failure is to foster an atmosphere of playfulness. Creative activity is an inherently playful endeavor. Creators must feel empowered to try new things. One of my goals when designing a course or lecture is to maintain a playful atmosphere of productive creativity. I have developed some successful techniques to help encourage this atmosphere. First, I strive to remain culturally current with my students. In all my classes I try to learn each student’s interests and tastes as early as possible. Usually by openly discussing students’ favorite films. I use this information to approach course material in a way students can relate to on a personal level. Additionally, I am careful to present myself and my course material in a professional, contemporary, and style conscious way. Much of the filmmaking process is about personal style and expression, I incorporate this expression into my physical appearance and in the design of my course materials. Second, I employ the use of real world, contemporary examples in course related material. I incorporate materials from other professionals via blogs, web series, video tutorials, ect. This keeps the material fresh for both me and the students. Finally, I encourage interpersonal learning through a combination of in-class group exercises and Socratic teaching methodology.
Learn to learn. Successful artists never stop growing. Filmmaking students, therefore, must learn to learn. In my courses I provide students resources and experience in self learning. These resources include lecture materials, sample clips, images, reading lists and other available online resources. I also focus on self learning and research methods that are appropriate for creative professionals.