And the Oscar goes to...
Monday mornings are never fun. Add on top of it the prospect of disappointing 30 of your 35 students first thing in the morning and things go from bad to worse. Needless to say, walking into class today probably had me more nervous than all the others days combined. We had made our decisions and had to reveal the five films we will produce during this session and, as expected, upset a few people in the process.
Bridget, Sabrina and I forfeited a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo this weekend deciding we had too heavy of a task reading and discussing all the scripts. We’re satisfied with our decisions, but obviously had to sacrifice some worthwhile stories for logistical, thematic and technical reasons. A seemingly disproportionate amount of scripts dealt with rape, a reasonable amount centered on AIDS, while only a few tackled the issue of race. Social activism has never been our mandate, but it was important for us at the BFC to choose a range of films that dealt with a variety of issues, as well some that were just plain sweet, scary or entertaining. Manageable was also a key factor, which will explain why certain scripts which focused on large acts of genocide or a romance in Paris were ultimately decided against.
Over the weekend I also determined that I should probably not rely on them to self-finance their films, as we had said they would have to from the beginning. Providing cameras, guidance and hopefully some editing equipment can go a long way when producing a first short film, but doesn’t take into account certain unavoidable costs such as food, transportation, props, supplies, etc. We also want them to practice making a real budget and cut corners without compromising all the time. The result is I will give each film 100,000… Burundi francs. It’s the equivalent of about $100 U.S., which sounds like pennies I know, but they can really stretch that money a long way here if they try (and I’m encouraging them to find other personal donations from people who want a film credit). The financing is also a way for me to act as an executive producer and encourage a level of professionalism in their films.
If you can believe it, we have done all this without giving them any hands-on training with the cameras yet. Considering the first film starts filming in exactly one week and about half the class has said they’ve never used a video camera, I think we best start on that tomorrow.