Last week I was helping out with a media training week, working with MK College students. The students spent the week learning the skills needed to make a short film focusing on a research project being run by the OU. This particular training focused on the nQuire platform. Here’s my run down of the week:
A day of hilarity and heart-attacks. Today was the students first day and being the early bird I am, I got there before anyone else and spent 10 awkward minutes trying to decide if the young people standing outside the Berrill Building were the group I was looking for. After nervously sidling up to one of them I discovered they were.
Arriving at the studio, the students learnt that they were going to be taught how to interview. At this point I could sense what was going to happen and desperately tried to hide in the back. Unfortunately Janet noticed this and picked on me to be the guinea pig to show how to interview.
I have to say that through this process I learnt that I really dislike being interviewed. It was much more fun watching the young people adapting to this new type of pressure. These sort of interviews were called ‘stand alone’ as the interviewer’s questions would be cut out and the interviewee would have a whole section of just them talking.
We went on to do ‘two-way’ interviews in which the students interviewed each other about a topic of their choice. Our group decided to interview one of the students who does ‘parkour’ in his spare time.
This automatically forced everyone with any form of responsibility to have a minor heart attack when the student decided to show off his skills. Needless to say all was fine, apart from maybe my blood pressure.
Watching these ‘two ways’ back, we were treated to what I can only describe as comedy gold. One particularly talented student did some ‘cutaways’ conveying lots of different emotions that might have been needed for the piece. I have to say, any actor would be jealous of the range this student had; I’m sure ‘Doctor Who’ will be on the phone in no time. On a serious note, it was great to see these young people doing something they clearly enjoyed and were also very skilled at.
At the end of Monday the students were asked to prepare a two-minute piece to camera (PTC) about a topic of their choice. I think it is safe to say that I have never known a group of people pick topics that were so different from one another. For example, one student chose film making, whereas another student decided to do it on their hobby of ‘cosplay’.
I think it’s safe to say that this one had the most elaborate props and costumes, including a longbow! This was slightly terrifying but also very cool. Some people found these PTCs very easy but others took longer to take to it. This was all part of the learning process and by the end of the day all of the young people had made a short film.
It was great for the young people to experience this sort of professional meeting in which big decisions are made. This meant they had the opportunity to make these decisions as opposed to them being made for them. All of this is important for their skill development, making sure that the students get full experience of the film-making process.
Today was the day when all planning for film day had to be done. It was really important that the young people got as much done as possible and they worked incredibly hard to achieve this. They decided that they wanted to film one of the interviews today but unfortunately everyone, including me, had forgotten to bring the filming kit. This meant me desperately running around the Open University to find the kit, only to discover that I had no way to access it.
After asking a lovely OU employee to point me in the right direction, and borrowing her phone, I finally found the right person and got the kit just in time for the filming to begin. I hoped this filming would go off without a hitch, but I had forgotten that we were based in a college, with some rather loud college students hanging around. Luckily both the groups had strong directors who weren’t afraid to tell people to be quiet whilst the filming was going on. Once again I was impressed with how both groups worked as a filming team.
The day of filming arrived! I was helping out with the group whose film was about the nutritional investigations done on the nQuire platform. We started off by interviewing Thea in the Hub (the OU's staff canteen). I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interview be done so quickly and professionally, and to such a high standard.
Next to be filmed was the beginning piece to camera (PTC; see Tuesday). After lots of negotiation between director and camera man, the presenter had her time to shine. PTCs are hard for most people but once again I was impressed by how professional the team was in supporting the presenter and calming any nerves she had.
After many, many shots they got the take they needed and moved on to their final bit. The team was ahead of schedule so after lunch they went out to get some extra transitional shots. This means that the finished product will look much better once edited together. All in all, the filming process went really well for both groups giving them enough time to edit.
Friday was all about editing. Both teams had to learn how to use the software and edit their films, which was the most stressful part of the whole process!
We watched the rough cuts at the end of a long day of editing and both teams created high-quality films that they can be very proud of.
Once they have been touched up a little by the editor we will post them up on this blog for all to see!
As you can see it was an eventful week yet it was also an amazing experience. Working with young people is something I am very passionate about and this group really overwhelmed me with their talent, skills and most importantly their professional attitude to the work.