Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Genesis

I love movies. I love them so much I dedicated four years of a mythical place called "college" to studying them. I know the conventions, the genres, the back stories, the directors, the players, the lighting motifs, and everything in between. To put it bluntly: movies are my life. Cinema can transcend borders, cultures, race, color, or creed. Even the worst movies can unite absolute enemies in their mutual hatred for whats on screen. As a Peace Corps volunteer, and more specifically, working in the Youth Development sector, I am in the unique position to provide programs for the youth of Bulgaria. I have now decided to combine my job and my passion: The Kavarna Film School Project. Working off a three part structure, I am attempting to instill a life long love of films, a working knowledge of how movies are made, and create the confidence that any one can make a movie. Now comes the hard part: making this a reality.
The three main aspects of this project are 1) film theory, 2) film production, and 3) film making. I have written a cirriculum for introductory film theory, covering the basics aspect of cinema, genre identification, and film history. Part 2, film production, will also involve a cirriculum of in class work, but will focus more on technical aspects of production. The last part is the hardest, and can also be the most rewarding. My plan is to have short films written, starring, and produced by the students of the Kavarna Film School Project. I want to have them fully develop their ideas, work together as one unit, and show the world their creativity. I whole heartedly believe these goals can be accomplished. However, the resources needed to faciliate such a project are no readily available. To make this dream a concrete, tangible program, I am asking for any advice you can provide. As of this moment, I have created a brief outline which describes the needs of this project, and can be found at, searching for wish lists "tobias hewitt". or this link

The list consists of
a) Canon XH-A1s Camera
b) Wide Angle Lens Converter
c) Lithium-Ion Battery
d) Tripod

The Kavarna Film Project is an amalgamation of needs, desires and dreams. I am 100% committed to the youth of my town, and I know they are behind this project as well. Thank you for your support, and please do not hesitate to ask me any questions or offer any advice you might have.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Shia 101

The combination of: a) language barrier, b) a 10+ age gap, and c) the definition of agreat film being "Anything with Shia Lebouf" creates a tough starting point for teaching the finer aspects of cinema.
My goal of the premiere class was to introduce concepts and conventions common to all films. Terms such as 'shot', 'plot', 'narrative' all made an appearance. When I moved on to movie terminology, I encountered my fair share of blank faces, and puzzled looks. Sample exchange:

"So, a medium shot is when,-..."
(Several pairs of eyes are staring into the abyss)
"Um, 'Transformers'.."
(I have just received everyone's undivided attention; Marisa Miller and Justin Timberlake could be outside, and no one who even shift an eye)
"Ah,...when Shia is talking with his parents, that's a medium shot"
"Ohhhhh" (Nods of approval)

Eventually, I explained 15 shots and concepts through Michael Bay's magnum opus.
ex. When Shia is looking up at Optimus Prime, the camera is considered a low angle
ex. The best tracking shot is during Jon Voight's speech in the Pentagon
ex. A shot consists of the .5 seconds before Michael Bay cuts to a new one

Only major hurdles we had to overcome were the 'why' question. I cannot get into the inner psychi of a major Hollywood director. I didn't have many answers for 'why did he [the director] make that in slow-motion? Why didn't Sam Witwicky run faster?' I nodded my head a few times, as if I was contemplating the mysteries of the universe, then fumbled through a half-baked explanation about "auteur theory, coupled with artistic vision"...because really, saying 'it looks cooler that way' doesn't have the same impact.

Overall, everyone who participated seemed genuinely interested and excited. It was great to see people shouting out examples of what a "close-up" was, or eagerly raising their hands to discuss a moment plot versus story. I hope this enthusiasm continues, but for now I need to catch up on 'Eagle Eye', 'Disturbia', 'Holes' and maybe 'Armageddon' (Criterion version, of course).