My daughters have long had a deep interest in the arts. Coming from a music background I have treated music education like any other subject: math, music, grammar. They took dance lessons, have participated in many musical theater productions, and have written plays and won composition festivals. But film has always been tough to find resources to help us develop skills and understanding. We enjoyed analyzing movies for history and worldview. And when my oldest, considering film school as a possible college major, asked for a high school film course, I was stumped. Until my latest trip to a homeschool convention. Homeschoolers now have their own film course: Film School 4 Teens!
I met the Evans family in their booth at the FPEA convention. Damon Evans is an experienced film maker and the teacher for the course, and Elise Evans is a homeschool mom that understands our homeschool mom needs. We even met their oldest daughter, now a university film student, who answered my daughter’s questions.
I loved the streamlined course the Evans had put together on-line, with professional video lessons and a colorful textbook. The price was reasonable, especially since we could get one more textbook and let both girls take the course together. We decided to give it a try.
The Intro to Film Making course seemed to lend itself well to the co-op setting, so we put together a group of like-minded students and a schedule. We meet once a month and review two lessons and two of the assigned movies. I think a weekly or every other week format would work even better, but the schedule accommodation is worth the support of other students interested in film.
We call the last half hour of class “lab” and I let them go crazy in the back yard filming whatever they want. So far they have re-enacted scenes from Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and The Princess Bride. There is no better way to learn than to imitate the masters, and they have so much fun doing it that they have no idea they are learning!
The teens love that we analyze quality movies together as a part of the course. The movie follow-up questions direct us to look at the film techniques we are learning, as well as the storytelling elements, and even the film maker’s world view. The course covers both film appreciation and film production. I highly recommend it for any student 13 and up that enjoys film.
The final project is to shoot a film based on a script the course provides. Of course, my oldest could not wait until then to try her hand at film making. Mr. Evans shared an opportunity to enter a high school film festival and my Doll was off and running, creating a five minute short.
Even a five minute short film is a lot of work. I was nervous about giving her time off of the three R’s to write, shoot, and edit a film. But with her sister as the title role, I got into the spirit and earned myself a credit as the “Production Assistant”. The experience was well worth letting other academics go for a few days. The results were amazing and it helped her figure out what parts of film making she really enjoys and is good at.
Since the NXNW High School Film Festival was in Arizona, we could not travel across the country to see its premier on the big screen. But we were very excited that her film was selected for the festival and even more ecstatic to hear that it won third place!
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