What We’re Doing for High School (Homeschool) Fine Arts
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The course Filmmaking from the First Directors is an online portal class taught by Thomas Purifoy, Jr., which fulfills requirements for either a full year or one semester high school fine arts credit, depending upon how much time students spend on the lessons.
This film class teaches the building blocks of filmmaking and the history of film. Lessons focus on the craft of filmmaking by introducing students to early filmmakers, like D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and George Melies, and studying the techniques they used. Students become well-versed in the “language” of film and work at their own pace to complete assignments. The goal of this program is for students to “get out and make films,” which is exactly what my son wants to do.
The Lessons of Filmmaking from the First Directors
The lessons of Filmmaking from the First Directors consist of Mr. Purifoy’s engaging lectures covering both history and technical aspects of filmmaking. Students then view original films by the finest directors of filmmaking history. This is followed by commentary from the teacher as students view portions of the films again.
Each lesson also includes a hands-on assignment, such as filming a single action with no sound or filming a funny stunt scene with slapstick humor. There is no required text book. In addition to the online portal access, however, students will need the following equipment to complete the projects:
- digital film camera (not a Flip or phone camera)
- video tripod with fluid head
- digital editing software
What I Like About Filmmaking From the First Directors
The sixteen lessons cover the “big picture,” such as concepts, history, techniques, and the “grammar” of film. The production nuts and bolts are also covered, allowing students to get into the hands-on aspects of filmmaking. I really like how students are taught both history and criticism of film and are also given technical instruction so they can create their own projects.
Each project takes its cue from the director being studied, and students film and edit their work before sharing it. Once projects are completed, students upload them on Vimeo where the teacher and other students can view and critique their films. One especially nice thing about Mr. Purifoy’s comments is that they are specific, showing that he spends time watching the student’s films and gives them helpful feedback.
Teaching to Their Interests
I have found it challenging to find curriculum for my son, an aspiring filmmaker, that actually teaches more than just how to operate a camera. Overview of Filmmaking from the First Directors is a nice combination of technique, history, and craft.
The class is designed so that students are not given grades but simply pass the class if they do the work. Mr. Purifoy stresses that students should concentrate on the filmmaking itself.
Filmmaking is more than just operating a camera, and through this class, my son is learning to perfect his art and is gaining an appreciation for the masters of the art. He has already acquired a vast collection of classic films with his hard-earned money!