Monday, July 12, 2010

Movie-Making as a Model for Learning

What do movies communicate? They entertain us by telling a story, motivate us by moving us to action, or puzzle us by posing a question for consideration. Aren't these some of the ways we like to learn best? Yet, here we are talking about the final product. I'm wondering, what do we learn from making movies, and from making them in collaboration with others?

Movie-making, by its very nature is a collaborative process. I have just completed a workshop with master media-teaching mentor Marco Torres as part of Alan November's Building Learning Communities 10, something I have wanted to do for several years. And I have learned from Marco one of his key precepts: "The product is part of the process." The learning comes from the whole enchilada.

What do we learn from making movies together? First, there's the brainstorming, articulating, planning part of the process. During these discussions, we learn how to animate our curiosity and inspiration. We learn how to figure out ways to push out an idea so that others will take a second look at it.

We learn to translate an idea in to words (script) or sketches (storyboards). We learn how to communicate in careful and precise detail to a crew.We learn how to make purposeful choices -- and determine those choices in conversations with others. ("Make the camera movements purposeful," Marco says.) We learn how to project ideas from multiple perspectives (using camera angles, different types of shots).

During production, we learn how to see (borrowing the "rule of thirds" and other commandments from photography). We learn how to listen. We learn how to ask permission. We learn how to work under tight time constraints. We learn how to plan and implement a project based on that plan.

When we edit, we learn how to focus on our purpose and cut whatever doesn't add to that purpose.  We learn to look for ways to tie everything together.  We learn how to present our work to others in rough form, reflect on our challenges and our learning. We learn how others see what we do. We learn how to go back and make it better.

Oh, yeah. We learned how to do this in two days. Here's the movie my husband, Larry Kahn, and I finished this afternoon.  (I've revised this blog to include the YouTube version for you iFolks. Unfortunately, this version cuts off the side.  You can't win, I guess.)

(Thank you, Marco, Rosa, Elizabeth, and Miguel.)