By Colin Capenito, IV Form
Creating a Three-Minute Film
This past fall season, I participated in the“Three-Minute Film Project” course that as part of St. Mark’s Saturday. The goal of the course appears basic: each group of five to six students were to produce a complete three-minute film by the end of the seven-week Saturday course. What was not basic, however, was making a good complete film. Three minutes may like a blip of time; in fact, some might even wonder how seven weeks could be spent working on mere three-minutes of film. It’s challenging.
The first few classes centered around observing many different aspects of film. We looked at the cinematography of the film Whiplash, the script of one of Christopher Nolan’s first feature films (Memento), and the editing of a foreign film called the City of God. One of the first and most important things that we learned was that everything you see and hear in a film is intentional. The lighting, the soundtrack, the way the camera is moved and positioned–all of it is part of the director’s way of communicating his or her story to the audience.
While we watched many clips from various films throughout the course, we began to work on our own projects. First, everyone in the class had to come up with a complete story pitch for a potential three-minute film. We divided into two groups, with students pitching ideas to their groups. Then, each of the two groups chose their top two ideas, and both groups came together to share these ideas. We then each voted on our two favorite ideas, and then we finally had our two stories.
Following this, we divided into two groups; each group focused on one of the two stories. Each group then gave roles to each member: there needed to be a director, a writer, a cinematographer, a producer, and an editor. I had been tasked with role of director for my group (other roles: written by Cyrus Motakef; edited by Isabelle O’Toole; produced by Will Figueroa; cinematography by Sion Park). After this, the real tasks began. As a group, we first created storyboards to get an idea of what we wanted our film to look like, and then we jumped into filming. My group’s first day of filming had seemingly been a success. We had filmed an entire sequence, and we were ready to continue on and finish our film in no time. Or so we thought. That same day, after class had ended, I decided to review some of our footage to see how we did, and the result was devastating. I realized that our footage contained no sound. On top of that, the lighting was painfully bad, and the camera wasn’t always in focus. Nothing is more gut-wrenching than realizing that you have to redo something that you put hours of hard work into. And so, my group learned first-hand the struggle of shooting a film. We then decided that rather than spending another class working on reshooting that scene, we would all get together outside of class to film in order to make sure that we would have enough time to complete our film by the due date.
I look back now and I’m actually glad that whole failure happened. Sure, it was definitely a setback, but our reshot scene was so much better than the original. We also definitely became more observant when filming, which helped us to avoid similar problems. The remaining classes were very productive for us. We were able to shoot some good content, and we only had to meet outside of class a couple of times just to reshoot anything we felt needed to be and to maximize our time for editing. All of our footage together, including our multiple takes of each scene, totaled around thirty minutes of film. It really makes you think about all the footage they must have to shoot for a feature length film!
Please click here for our film, An Elevated Chance of Lateness: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypk_FN_3kE8&t=1s
The final day of class was awesome. Seeing our completed projects was fantastic, and it allowed us to really see our diligence come to fruition. There are definitely things I would change in my group’s film if I could, but really any director can look back on his or her work and think the same thing. I was really proud of what my group put together as part of this one course, and we were happy to be able to show our work to the rest of the class.
For me, becoming a filmmaker has always been a dream of mine. I plan to major in film in college, and hopefully someday I’ll be making my own films. It was truly amazing that I was able to take a class like this that appealed so greatly to my interests. I learned invaluable skills, such as the “Rule of Thirds” and the “180 Rule”, which can make a simple home video look like a professional film. I also learned skills that can be used outside of film, such as planning and collaboration. Everything I learned in this class no doubt made me a better filmmaker, and it brought me closer to my dream, all due to a St. Mark’s Saturday course.
Colin Capenito is a IV Form day student from Worcester, MA. He loves to write and make films, and he is a huge Star Wars fan.