Thursday, April 1, 2010

Movie night

Every other Thursday this semester, I've been spending the evening with my students, watching movies. Tonight was our last movie night. The students will spend the next four weeks working in groups on shooting, editing, and finalizing short films.

I'm going to miss movie nights. It's a large class, by my department's standards; two sections meeting together with two instructors. That means almost thirty people in the room, watching the movie projected on a big screen. The students bring their dinners and snacks -- class starts at 6 pm -- and they feel at home. At first I was bothered by the number of murmured comments and side conversations going on during the movies. But in discussion, it was clear that they had watched carefully and picked up on all kinds of interesting nuances. I concluded that the commentary was their way of processing what they were seeing. They weren't watching the movie in isolation; they were using each other as a means to pay attention.

We had terrific discussions after each of the movies, and I have been gratified to read in their blogs about the depth those discussions added to their experience with the movies. Before class today, a student told me, "Now I'm even doing it to music videos. I was watching Lady Gaga ...?" I told her that she wasn't overdoing it, that there were all kinds of things going on in those videos intimately related to what we'd been doing in class.

Sometimes I hear complaints -- or at least concerns -- from those students who feel like this academic approach to film is condemning them to a lifetime of analysis rather than enjoyment. I'm glad that my students this semester seem to be more interested in the enhancement of simple entertainment experiences than worried about losing their naivete. And in four weeks, I hope to see a few incredible moments -- maybe not a lot, but a few -- that they've created because of what they've seen and thought about.

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