Production Support Activities

CC image Student filmmakers attend workshops at VFS during the 2009 BC Student Film Festival by Vancouver Film School at Flickr
CC image Student filmmakers attend workshops at VFS during the 2009 BC Student Film Festival by Vancouver Film School at Flickr

Material below was adapted from the 2019 IB Film Teacher Support Material

Specific support activities are likely to involve the following.

Pre-production

  • Assist with the formation of groups and provide leadership where needed. This can be the most important stage of the process as a poorly formed group is more likely to have issues as the collaborative project progresses. Help students set clear goals and develop strong communication skills from the beginning.
  • Students should pitch their ideas to the teacher. The teacher should approve the script and identify any potential problems before students spend hours going in the wrong direction. For example, ask: Is this doable? What is the plan? How are you going to achieve this? How are you going to find the right location? It is important to ask these questions and let the students work it out for themselves, as opposed to providing them with the answers. Overall, the teacher should hold the power of veto, and it is strongly recommended that this is used.
  • Set clear target deadlines and help students create a schedule to achieve this. At the minimum, students should have a target date to complete each phase of the filmmaking process (pre-production, production and post production). Students often take too much time in pre-production, which does not leave enough time in post-production and can negatively affect students in the editing and sound roles, and can impact the overall quality of the film.

Production

  • This can be trickier to manage as often film students work off-site or out of school hours. It is a good idea to establish a regular review session to monitor the progress of each student (and to make sure that progress is being made).
  • Teachers must ensure that students are staying within the guidelines for the assessment. This could be in terms of limiting mature content or vetting non-student help to ensure that all creative decisions and actions are completed by the students themselves. This can be tricky with production work off-site so it is recommended that teachers regularly view student work and meet with them to review progress.
  • Issues with team dynamics often begin during this phase and it is important to allow students to work out their own issues, while teachers should provide support and strategies for students dealing with conflicts. Having students keep a regular journal during this time is a good idea as it allows the students an opportunity to vent their difficulties, but also to reflect on what is going well and what could improve. It is important that the student takes ownership for their own contributions and is able to see each challenge as an opportunity for learning.
  • Students must allow enough time for post-production. If students face a number of setbacks (as they often do), it is a good idea to encourage the team to come up with a plan B. This may mean that one member ends up picking up more than their share or that there are last-minute changes to the script. Remember that you are there to support the students as best as you can, and guide them towards the best solution that will benefit each student.

Post-production

  • Teachers will need to help monitor deadlines and support students whose key roles are in the post- production phase. Depending on the resources available, this may include helping to schedule computer times and access to editing and sound facilities. Students tend to be the most stressed during this phase and it is important that the teacher offers as much support as possible
  • It is important that teachers ensure that all group members are engaged in the process until the end. Writers and cinematographers often feel that their contribution is done; however, it is important that these students continue to collaborate and are active team members until the project is complete. For further clarification on how each role can contribute in each phase, see the detailed film production role guidance in the “Delivering the course” section of this TSM.
  • Teachers should set up, or encourage students to arrange, a test screening of their film. The purpose of this is to allow the filmmakers an opportunity to receive feedback on their film from a smaller audience before a larger screening. This should occur while there is still time for students to make changes and alterations to their film. Even if the film is not in complete form, there is value for students to get feedback on a partial edit before submitting the completed film.

Project Report

  • In addition to the film, students must submit a project report. It is important that this is created concurrently to the three production phases and is not an afterthought. Although portions of it may be completed at the end, it is the intention that this is a document to support the student throughout the filmmaking process and provide the teacher/examiner with a further understanding of intentions, influences and skills learned.

Influences and intentions

  • Students are expected to provide clear examples of any person, film or body of work that has influenced them in the creation of the film. This could be in terms of the content, genre or specific stylistic elements executed in the selected role. As this is the culminating assessment for HL students, it is expected that students will draw from other areas of the course and will be familiar with conventions and film language appropriate to the film.
  • It is recognized that these are student films and so perfection in the completed film is not necessarily the goal. Students who clearly articulate their goals and intentions are more likely to get rewarded for their efforts, regardless of the final outcome. Teachers should help students formulate realistic goals and include these in the written report. Equally important to the intentions, students should offer thoughtful reflections indicating to what extent they met their intentions (either as an individual or as a team).

Evidence

  • Students should create and store evidence for all three phases of production. Detailed examples of appropriate evidence have been provided for each film production role as part of this TSM. Although screengrabs and production photos may be included, the idea is that the evidence selected should demonstrate the planning the student did, in addition to a documentation of the process. Photos from other films, website excerpts and film posters should be kept to a minimum. Encourage students to include evidence they personally created that helps to support both their role and their intentions.
  • Although some documents maybe be used by the full group (for example, the script) any evidence that the student uses must include their own personal notes or planning. For instance, a cinematographer could submit a script with lighting notes in the margins as meaningful evidence, but simply submitting a script that was written by another team member would be viewed as weak documentation.
  • It is important that any evidence submitted is legible and readable after being uploaded. The teacher should help monitor and ensure this before submitting the evidence.

Role focused

  • It is important that students clearly articulate their personal contributions to the film and the level to which they collaborated with their production team. This does not mean students should see this as an opportunity to complain, blame or criticize the role of another member of the production team. Any discussion of the collaboration process should be focused on idea sharing, problem-solving and lessons learned while working with other students. It should be clear from the production report how the student contributed in each phase and how this made an impact on the finished film.

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