Academic journal article High School Journal

College Bound Filmmakers: The Journey to a Screening

Academic journal article High School Journal

College Bound Filmmakers: The Journey to a Screening

Article excerpt

This pre-college filmmaking class represents the writing process in a setting that acknowledges multiple forms of representation for effective communication. Students were introduced to the skills used by filmmakers and encouraged to write, script, design, edit and east their productions for a final screening five weeks after they began their journey in the college-bound program. Evidence of their growth as writers and producers is given in their testimony to the new levels of awareness of the way in which they have improved as writers and artists. This project is a signal that the writing process can be revamped to meet the standards of media literate adolescents in the pre-college environment. Academic programs that value student talent in its many forms are encouraged to give the time, expertise, and support necessary to bring the filmmaking arts to the pre-college youth in their charge.


Since 1999 the number of states calling for curricular guidelines in media education has increased from 12 to 49 (Kubey & Frank, cited in Furlong, 2001). This mushrooming of attention to the "youth media" trend across the nation can also be observed in the number of organizations that have been listed as training sites where young people can gain the skills necessary for successful film and video production i.e. Open Society Institute's Youth Initiatives; Noodlehead Network; Wide Angle Community Media; IMAGE Film and Video Center; Educational Video Center; Global Action Project; Video Access Center; Conexiones Project; Community Media Center; and Video Machete, to name a few of the resources (Walker, 2002; Faber & Benfield, 2001).

The attention being paid to this form of literacy is well deserved and can easily be understood within the context of experiential learning (Dewey, 1958), and cross-disciplinary study (Eisner, 1996). When the art of writing is combined with the art of the moving picture, teachers and students experience a "clarity and complexity which neither alone could attain" (Murata, 19, p. 46). Because the arts have been documented as a means to "expanding our understanding of the world" (Albers, 1997, p. 94), we can combine them in ways that bring our students into new understandings for many years to come. The broadening of our concepts of meaning making has been heralded in the work of Eisner (1978), Goodman (1978), Barghoff (1995), Harste, Woodard and Burke (1984], Siegel (1984), and Tseng (1994). These writers and teachers provide the platform on which we can build our work in the writing classroom with pre-college filmmakers and writing skills (Cox, 1984; Burn, 1999; Sinatra, 1990).


According to Albers (1997) transmediation is a way in which students demonstrate their understanding of a particular text through the use of several sign systems. Harste (1994) states that the process is a "strategy learners use to gain new perspectives on their knowing" (p. 31). The experience of making mental negotiations between meaning and text (Dyson, 1991; Myers, 1991; Harste, 1993) is key to the success of this approach to filmmaking as one of the starting places of instruction (Harste, 1993). As learners transfer their understanding in one area of study to another field where they are struggling, say text to film composition, they transform problems of communication into challenges that can be positive learning experiences (Harste, 1993).

In an effort to see how exactly this process of transmediation worked with teenagers in CBFA, a "filmmaking academy", we documented the progress of the young filmmakers from the first through the fifth week of their training. The research team then interviewed the students a year after the screening of their first films at an assembly for all the participants. Based on the comments from the CBFA program and the parents of the students, the film students were found to be quite adept at the creation of a non-written expression of their written film scripts (Eco, 1997; Harste, 1993; Siegel, 1997). …

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