Miscellaneous » J-Term 2017 » Film, Food, Philosophy, Faith

Film, Food, Philosophy, Faith

Junior Simon Graber Miller chose this class because he liked all four words in the title. And he wasn’t disappointed. “We had a lot of learning amid all the fun,” he says.

Over the course of the two-week class, students watched movies that focused on different genres, some considered by critics to be good and some considered bad. Students focused their analysis partly on filming aspects such as lighting, camera angles, and costuming.

Using their observations and analysis of filming techniques, they made their own movies focusing on quick cuts, editing, and limited dialogue. They also experimented with using green screen to allow adding different backgrounds and special effects, such as junior Joel Yoder wrapping himself up to his head in green screen so that only his head showed in the film. Simon laughs thinking about the difference in movies he made in middle school (camera on tripod, talk, move to another room, repeat) compared to what they produced now.

However, much of their analysis extended beyond filming techniques to focus on questions such as “What is a hero? What belief systems or values are represented? What transformation do the characters undergo?”

Teacher Dale Shenk noted that the most interesting conversations took place around the idea of transformation: “Characters were in conflict for various reasons, and we watched them change. Many times new relationships developed that changed the relationships that were rooted in conflict.”

Simon values having these tools to analyze movies that he watches, noting that he better understands why movies considered classics have so much impact and why other movies, though entertaining, might be considered “bad.” Simon says, “I found that these questions don’t get in the way of my enjoying the movie while helping me gain deeper meaning. You get out what you put in.”

Joel agrees. Though he probably won’t continue watching movies with the intent of analyzing, he says, “I’ll probably come out thinking about some of these things.”

And that is what Dale Shenk was hoping for when he designed this class. “Kids are going to watch bad movies, so I want them to think about what they can learn from even bad movies.”