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Victorian College of the Arts

Some Notes From Short Film Courses at the University of Melbourne, Victorian College of the Arts (School of Film and Television)

In January 2012 a few members of the Deepening Histories Project team, Julia, Mary Anne and myself , attended some short courses at the University of Melbourne, Victorian College of the Arts (School of Film and Television).

The first course was an intensive three days covering writing for the screen, producing, directing and working with actors (attended by all three of us). Day one was about writing, focusing mainly on narrative drama. This was useful as it gave us ideas about film structure (including documentary).  Ray Mooney who ran this part of the course also gave us a bag of quick tricks like developing a three act structure that can make any film look and feel more interesting and professional. Day two provided an overview of the roles and responsibilities of the film producer from project development to production, post-production, marketing and distribution. I particularly liked Maggie Miles’ hands on discussion about the production of the historic drama Van Diemen’s Land.  Day three was run by highly experienced director Aleski Vellis.  This was a really enjoyable day with Aleski discussing shot counts, framing and most importantly clear direction to actors/participants.  We could all see the clear relevance of his experience to our own work.

The second course was a four day course on practical cinematography (attended by Julia and myself). There was lots of hands on filming workshops everyday. We had one-on-one guidance from tutors working in the Film & TV industry (DOP’s, Camera Operators, Focus Pullers, Clapper Loaders, Gaffers and Grips), with us in different roles including DOP, Camera Operator, Focus Puller, Clapper Loader, Data Wrangling, Gaffer, Grip.  We also got to play with lots of nice toys: Sony Digital HDV to 7D’s, HD (RED, Aleksis).  There was a lot of discussion about which format and why.  We then got to shoot your own footage under a range of interior/exterior environments and test out each formats capabilities. Lamps and lighting (both natural and artificial) were discussed and explored in a range of environments.  I think both Julia and I got a lot out of this course.

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