Re: Teaching film [Was: Experimental films showing at various Universities]

From: Beth Capper (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Nov 28 2008 - 13:34:33 PST

haha, well I would certainly blame some of the students. But I think
it has more to do with the fact that people only begin to specialize
their interests in undergrad (whereas in the UK they do it at 16).
Students in the US aren't challenged from an early age to develop
their interests and think about what they'd like to study. Although, I
have to say that everything I know about film mostly comes from
watching them, and thinking about them, as well as one elective class
in post-war european cinema and an outstanding teacher in my final
year of undergrad.

Plus, while its sad to think of students as customers, how else can
you think when you're paying 30,000 up a year? While I want to get a
lot out of my MA program, I'm also terrified of what happens after...
I mean, there has to be a balence between results and education. If I
were american, there is no way I would have gone to university at all.
It's not worth the money - especially not in the arts or humanities,
especially not at art school where you basically spend that much just
for the privilege of time and facilities, and occasionally an amazing
teacher, but even they are few and far between now (maybe they were
good once, but a lot seem jaded with the whole process now).

I still think one can blame the school and education system more than
the students and teachers. I mean, some people take initiative to do
things on their own (and they are mostly the ones that end up
succeeding) but you can't write off students who don't do that -
otherwise, why even bother having an art school system? They need to
be forced by the school to do courses in film history and theory, they
need to understand WHY it will make them better artists/ smarter

- Beth x

On 11/28/08, Fred Camper <email suppressed> wrote:
> Beth Capper wrote:
> > The main problem, in my humble opinion (as a student at the Art Institute
> of Chicago) is that art schools don't require that students be
> intellectually challenged.
> >
> I'd say something related but not identical. The majority (not all) art
> students are shockingly, stupefyingly ignorant of the history of their
> media.
> Oh, a painting student might have to take a few art history courses, and
> thus some might actually be able to identify Giotto or Direr or Delacroix or
> Cézanne or Mondrian on a test -- but how many have the genuine aesthetic
> knowledge that comes from a deep involvement with looking, and looking
> again, at the actual works?
> In cinema it's even worse. How many MFA film students have a deep awareness
> of and involvement with, say, Méliès, or Griffith, or Eisenstein, or Dreyer,
> or even Deren or Anger? Yet these are among our founders.
> A true story I like to tell involves a young man who, in the early 1950s,
> having decided that poetry and theater, which he had been involved in, were
> not for him, decided instead, at 18, to become a filmmaker. The first thing
> he did, before actually trying to make films, was to read everything he
> could find by Eisenstein. (Sound like anyone you know today? Not likely.)
> Later, he obtained a print of "Potemkin" and viewed it again and again and
> again.
> His name was Stan Brakhage. And in fact, one can see echoes of
> Eisensteinian montage in his cinema up through "Dog Star Man." And guess
> which four filmmakers from my list above were the subjects of his early
> lectures, when he was hired to teach, collected in the book "The Brakhage
> Lectures"?
> > ...The problem is the school...
> >
> I'm not sure I agree with this. I think one could make a case for blaming
> the students themselves, or some of them.
> Were I to design a filmmaking MFA program, it would take three or more
> years, and include extremely extensive film viewing, reading the writings of
> filmmakers, and viewing their films again and again. Some films would be
> required of all, while each student would have the option to also choose
> others to explore in depth. And there would be an alternative way to do the
> program in two years, by seeing and studying films on one's own, IF one
> could past a difficult test before entering.
> I doubt that my program would do very well competing for students (who see
> themselves, as has been correctly said here, as customers rather than
> students) against those caring and nurturing programs that stress not the
> quality of the work but "the personal growth of the student" (a long-ago
> quote from a professor in the filmmaking department in Beth's own school)
> and that feature critiques with questions like "Tell us how your work has
> evolved since last semester" (a quote from an MFA photography critique I
> once attended).
> Of course, people whose last names begin "Ca" are almost invariably
> profound artists and thinkers who are exempt from my above comments...
> Fred Camper
> Chicago
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.