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Jumping on board a running train — Chemeketa’s filmmaking classes

Chemeketa’s Filmmaking students recording an interview for their film production class. Photo by Nadia Isom

By Montana Langford

A student-directed superhero film called Superiority was named as a finalist in the Capital Community Television (CCTV) Community Media Film Fest for 2018. It was one of four short films produced by filmmaking students at Chemeketa.

Students at the college have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with professional film equipment and techniques through the filmmaking classes. Each year, in the TV Studio in Bldg. 9, Chemeketa’s filmmaking classes offer the chance for students to create short films like Superiority, regardless of experience level.

The classes are structured in a linear way, so that students build on what they learned from each class. Documentary Filmmaking (FLM 265) focuses on teaching students the basics of storytelling and editing, and then making short documentaries. In Narrative Filmmaking (FLM 266), students move on to producing individual short films and learning more about how to tell a story with the camera. The final term, Independent Filmmaking (FLM 268), formerly Advanced Filmmaking, (FLM 267), is entirely dedicated to a collaborative project in which the whole class produces a student-written and directed short film.

Last year’s students got a head start on producing a collaborative project during FLM 266. During that class, students were given the task of coming up with short skits and then filming them within a brief amount of time. One class was canceled during the winter term, but the students made a short film anyway ‒ a spoof on horror movie tropes ‒ using a student’s personal camera. This spontaneous cooperation prompted the faculty adviser, Christian Bergmans, to produce two student films during the spring term rather than just one.

Photo by Nadia Isom

In reference to these student-led films, Bergmans said, “That’s the big payoff of taking all the classes… it’s the most like real-world experience that you’re going to get next to going and getting onto a film crew, and that’s what I try to replicate in the studio.”

As students begin to take on more responsibilities (such as prop-making, costuming, or directing duties), they learn important skills like teamwork, communication and time management. Kayla Miller, a sophomore in this year’s FLM 265 class, said, “You need to be good at managing your time, not expect to get most of it done just in the class period.”

Each of the filmmaking classes takes place from 6 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. every Tuesday. During the first term, the class is mostly lecture-based, but when students begin using cameras in class, their time is almost completely dedicated to capturing and reviewing footage.

Chuck Skinner, a freshman and amateur filmmaker in FLM 265, praised the way the class was led, saying, “The only thing you should worry about is timing, snacks, and knowing what you’re getting yourself into, editing and filming wise… you’re gonna be shooting and editing your own stuff.”

Bergmans agreed that the work can be challenging, saying, “It’s gonna be much more like… jumping on board a running train.” However, Bergmans does his best to alleviate the pressure felt by new students. He takes time to demonstrate each new concept being introduced and stays behind after every class to answer any questions or concerns.

“I kinda liked what he said about how nothing you make is ever gonna be perfect,” Miller said. “Everybody’s on their own journey, so you always can improve… and so that kind of makes it feel a little less stressful.”

Most importantly, students will learn how to use the powerful medium of film to tell a story they can be proud to say is entirely their own.

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