Come Out and Play
Today I was chased by robbers, poisoned by friends, hunted by bandits, shot dead and resurrected as an elephant. Safe to say, it was easily the most fun I’ve had since coming here. Acting and camera lessons are also a great chance for me to break the daily routine and better understand the group dynamics of the class.
We all have inhibitions that hold us back from realizing our true potential. Today I wanted to create a safe space for people to share ideas, ask questions and lose themselves in a fake reality – a film reality. So in front of dozens of bemused spectators, we first took to the courtyard outside our classroom to play a game called “Voice of God”, where a single narrator gets to control the actions of everyone. The narrator begins a story, then eventually taps someone else to carry it on, as everyone else continues to act out what they’re told. Men become women, friends become enemies, and everyone hopefully becomes a little more trusting of the creative process.
To retain the momentum I had built in the morning, I opted to teach the camera lessons in the afternoon (instead of budgeting and financing). I initially wanted to spread out the fun stuff, but it seemed cruel to confine everyone to chairs afterwards. So we used a live-feed and in-class models to show shot compositions and diagetic rules. Teaching theory tends to go a lot smoother when you get to illustrate it with practical examples.
Although many of the 2010 students are more experienced with a camera, they were even more interested in learning some best practices. Shot-reverse-shots, depth of field, compressions – it was like introducing a whole new set of colours to their palette of creativity. Technology is catching up fast in Burundi, and simply pulling out a camera would no longer satisfy their curiosity. So we got into details and, using the cameras sent to me for the Life In a Day project, got everyone shooting small, workshop-style sequences.
Stars in the class are already starting to emerge and others are only beginning to tap into their talents. Seeing everyone begin to apply what they’ve learned also helped me believe that all these things I’m talking about aren’t just being lost in thin air, their finding their way back into the real world.