I frequently get wonderful e-mails from teachers who’ve discovered our class films. They have some questions in them so I decided it was time to answer a couple of them. If you have questions after reading, please post those questions below as a comment. -Mathew
1. How did you get started?
My Filmmaking Background
I just turned 31 and I’ve been making films since fifth grade. My junior year of high school I made my first feature, a ninety minute tale of unrequited love.
I went to NYU film school for a year but left over fears of spending too much for a degree which might not have career possibilities. I took any tuition money I had left after freshman year and bought a digital video camera and the top of the line Apple G3 and made my movie. (You might say there was a theme to my films).
Video in the Classroom: My Start in the Ed-Biz
I have been a teacher for seven years but have been integrating video in the classroom for twelve years. I began working in the after school program at Community Magnet School right after high school. There I worked with Martha Melinda who taught me how to direct children and about how they like special effects.
When I had my own classroom, I spent my first two years making sure I knew what I was doing in terms of teaching the curriculum and completing coursework to obtain a teaching credential. I advise new teachers to do the same, make sure you know your curriculum before you start integrating technology. But once I had a credential, I didn’t feel like I had any excuse not to start integrating technology.
How Should I Get Started?
I compiled some links here to tutorials and film tips. There’s a lot to know but you don’t have to know everything to get started. Just get started, begin to play and work out your technique as you go. I recommend the book, Film Directing Shot by Shot for help when you’re ready to start planning your shots and a one-to-one membership at the Apple Store if you’re using the Mac and want software lessons.
How Do You Get Your Audio So Clear?
Proximity is number one rule. If you record from across the room, you can’t hear, particularly with younger students who talk quietly when they’re nervous. Get the microphone close and practice projecting before filming.
My microphone cost $300 five years ago. It’s a BeyerDynamic MCE86 shotgun microphone. I also have a microphone stand ($30) which holds in place in a shock mount of sorts. For “Tales from the Yard” students sat right under the microphone as they recorded their voices into Garageband on my iBook. That’s my only secret. Also turn up the volume as loud as you can. Today, there are other microphones that might be much cheaper and give you equally good sound. The cheapest microphone would be better than using the built in mics on your camera or computer.