Instructor Interview: A Class on Pre-Production

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JOSHUA GUNN: One thing I thought was effective was the way that Chris, I think, on the first day I attended and

watched, you kind of laid out a sort of more theoretical framework you know about storytelling and that sort of thing. And I think that was nice because, for me, I think it's effective. I'm just one kind of learner, but sort of have a sort of theory laid out first, and then practice later.

I got the big idea of the why and then it felt to me like the course dove into some of the details of how. So it was was like a theory practice kind of structure, which would have been quite useful to me had I taken the whole course.

CHRIS BOEBEL: One of the big challenges, I think, with any kind of media course or film, video, is it that the technical stuff is so overwhelming, potentially, for people who are new. There's such a big learning curve that you can get lost in those details really fast. And you go, oh my God, I'll never learn Final Cut and why does everything I shoot suck? Oh, this is terrible, I'm a failure.

And if you kind of go, well, those aren't really the learning objectives, which you very clearly articulated, then it's kind of a bigger un-clench. It's like, OK, what I'm really learning here is to be a communicator, be a storyteller, carry myself, understand this medium, and maybe someday I'll be a terrific editor, or maybe I won't. But either waw--

JOSHUA GUNN: Maybe you'll plug into the processes in some other way.

CHRIS BOEBEL: In some other way. Exactly, yeah. But you have to understand the whole process.

ELIZABETH CHOE: I remember when I first proposed like-- because you were like, what do you want me to do? Because I was just like, can you be involved in this somehow? And it was sort of like, well, maybe you could cover the actual basics of shooting and everything. You said something like, they seem like a technical things. And I was like, oh shoot, this is terrible. I'm doing the thing that I tell people not to do.

So we made a very conscious decision to take all this technical elements. We did not teach how to edit on Final Cut or anything. Instead, MIT has free Window licensing. And honestly, their videos teach it better than I do. I don't know Final Cut well enough to teach it. And not all the students used it, so we said, for all the technical learning stuff, it was all on digital blended learning. Flip Classroom. Thank you.

And class time was really about teaching big picture stuff, and then work shopping specific examples, and specific things they came up with.

CHRIS BOEBEL: Because time is limited and it's so daunting to become a director, on camera host, writer, editor, camera person, all in a few weeks. And it's just not going to happen.

JOSHUA GUNN: Just the expectation that they come out with the notion of storytelling would be sufficient.

ELIZABETH CHOE: It really ended up being a class on pre-production. It was like two weeks of intense scripting and planning and the rest just sort of happened in the last couple days. The just had to figure out how to film.

JOSHUA GUNN: That's great, I mean the technical execution gets pushed to the margin, and the more creative stuff takes precedence.

ELIZABETH CHOE: I mean it's a different class. There were a couple people who dropped because they came in thinking, like, this is going to be a class on how to make a video. And it's not exactly about that. Because there are other classes like that that already exist on campus, so there's no reason for us to redo that.

GEORGE ZAIDAN: And you learn stuff by like shooting your own stuff and screwing up.


JOSHUA GUNN: Yeah, exactly.

ELIZABETH CHOE: But if someone's going to watch this class on OpenCourseWare, for instance, they're not necessarily going to pick up the practical skills that they might be expecting to.

GEORGE ZAIDAN: We don't teach you how to light, sorry.

ELIZABETH CHOE: But like a teacher who might be watching this might be like, how do I teach a video production class? And I'm not sure this is necessarily exactly that. Sorry.

CHRIS BOEBEL: Oops. But it is hopefully maybe a conceptual framework that you could then plug-in production modules into.

JOSHUA GUNN: Or a larger course.

ELIZABETH CHOE: Yeah, it was so short. It felt like a sprint.

JOSHUA GUNN: Yeah what can you do? What can you accomplish in that time? I was impressed by how ambitious it was.

CHRIS BOEBEL: It was very ambitious, I thought.

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