Year 12 Drama - knowing the screen
Teacher in Charge: W. Walker
THIS COURSE WILL PROVIDE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR ANY STUDENT WITH A BURNING DESIRE TO FILL ONE OF THE MANY CREATIVE ROLES CENTRAL TO THE MAKING OF TELEVISION AND/OR FILM ENTERTAINMENT(i'e MOVIES), including Screenwriting, Directing, Producing, Lighting, Cinematography, Camera grip and, of course, Acting, a thorough understanding of what you will be getting into and, if you still want it, the skills to go for it!
The AIMS of this course are:
- To build on the skills learned in the Year 11 course, ‘Acting for Camera.’ (11DRAC)
- To develop and refine acting skills in roles written for the screen.
- To further develop:
- Screenwriting skills
- Production planning skills
- Directing skills
- Editing skills
- To develop skills associated with up to three film production crew roles
- To prepare students for more specialised film production roles in Year 13
- To prepare students for Level 3 performance roles on screen in 2022
- To move students closer to being either independent filmmakers or film performance and/or production ready beyond 2022 in an environment where opportunities in film production are likely to abound in New Zealand while opportunities in other industries are scarce.
New Zealand is heading into an era with unprecedented levels of film and television production due to the international perception of New Zealand having world class crews locally and it being a safe place in which to produce products for the screen. Inevitably Drama as a school subject will extend to allow screen performances to be eligible for assessment, just as it currently is does for stage performance. For screenwriters, actors, directors and producers, the understanding of the processes, specialist technical production roles and relationships between them is invaluable.
There will be FOUR MAIN UNITS OF WORK:
- Screen writing
Students will do a series of writing exercises specifically for the screen. These will focus on the use of:
Each of these will be followed by group discussion and analysis of what students have produced.
During this unit students will use a camera to shoot movement wherever they can find it. They will then edit what they have shot into a 60 second clip put to music. Results will be shared and discussed.
The principles they learn from these two processes will inform the way they write, shoot and edit for their major assignment later in the course. To begin with, they will write a script for a FOUR MINUTE film.
- Acting with the camera as the audience
- Short film Production
- Editing and Post-production
After a brief series of lessons on shot types and sizes, using equipment such as cameras, boom poles, clappers, dollies etc. students will use a range of scenes and characters to practice performing with the understanding of the technical requirements of film. Exercises will include:
- Shot awareness:
- Editing awareness and the consequences for action and speech
- Microphone awareness and post-dubbing
- Maintaining truth in the centre of a storm
Students will practice repeating performance action while speaking lines with the focus on ensuring that action is the same at the likely editing points. Lines, similarly must not cross editing points so a consciousness of where those points are is important for the actor to have.
It is quite common for microphones to be used in awkward places because of factors such as wind, the frame of the shot, actor movement etc. This means that actors need to always be aware of where the microphone is so they can direct their voice in such a way to ensure it is picked up the electronic device. Frequently an actor will be required to repeat her lines off camera immediately after the shot has been ‘bought,’ so that better quality vocal sound can be captured. For this, the actor needs to maintain an awareness of how they delivered a line, particularly in terms of timing so that lips and dialogue will match up.
With the need to meet all the above technical demands, with a dozen or more people focused and relying on you, with the pressure of time always being a factor, with little rehearsal on set, the pressure on an actor at the moment of shooting is immense and intense. Maintaining character and delivering the truth in the moment that film often requires at such times is very far from easy. Finding the eye of the storm is a skill that requires discipline and practice. It is the ultimate challenge for any actor.
Students will learn the theory and processes involved in the overall production process of short film making, from script to planning, budgeting, casting, pre-production, production, post-production and exhibiting.
They will be paired into producer and director roles to organize, shoot and post-produce one of the scripts they have written.
Shoots will be scheduled over 14 day cycles, during which others will crew. There will be two films in production at a time. This process is likely to take 6-8 weeks, crossing Terms 2 and 3.
Often editing makes or breaks a performance and/or the film. Over 6-8 weeks, students will use the process of editing their films to a strict four minutes to:
- Learn the sequence of the editing process
- Explore options of shot, sequences and sounds.
- Observe how performance footage can cut to affect, even change meaning
- Understand how interconnected the process of scriptwriting, shooting and editing are with each other and, most importantly, with the performance.