One of the mandatory courses in 1st year of Screenwriting BFA at York is FA/FILM1020 Introduction to Filmmaking. It is exactly that – an introduction to filmmaking. The official course outline says that the course aims to introduce students to the principles of motion picture, cinematography, directing, editing and sound. Students gain experience in previsualization, production planning, directing, shooting, editing and post-production sound.
I had this course with outstanding professor Laurence Green, whose documentary Reconstruction won the Toronto Film Festival in the short movie category in 1995. What’s interesting about this course is the movies we make: 65 % of our grade is two movies. As I was still in Croatia then, I did both myself, but the idea was to form a small crew which makes a movie.
The theme for our first movie was “Exploration of a Place and/or Process,” and the second was “Five Minute Visual Storytelling Short Film.” Both experiences were unique, as I was never in the role of director, editor and cinematographer. For the storytelling task, I filmed the screenplay that I wrote (also) in the 1st year – “The Blind House.” “Blind house” is a short movie about a blind woman that gets terrorized in her apartment by an unknown person. Little do we know, the monster is Toby from The Office and the woman representation of Michal Scott. Yes, you can tell I had a lot of fun writing this short horror (without dialogue).
Filming “Blind House” was an extraordinary experience, as I worked with a professional actress Andjela Ramljak – I learned a lot from her. I filmed the wonderful Jelena Bando, an “Artist at work,” in the exploration of a process movie. Both movies taught me a lot. Some learnings I did not expect – I knew that movies are collaborative, but not in such an intense, powerful way. “Blind house” had its premiere on the Finish line – it’s a screening of movies from all years that happens at the end of the winter semester at York University.
In this course, we also learned much about the Bolex camera, which is rarely used today. The model we worked with was H16 Reflex. So, why did we learn about the outdated Bolex camera? There were many reasons, but I think it was helpful to sort of slow us down. With digital cameras/mobile phones, we can immediately access videos we did, and we are used to that. And pre-production process could be different. There was little room for mistakes with Bolex, and I liked that. As I was in Croatia, I asked Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb to show me Bolex, and they were happy to do so. Thank you, Academy.