A Recipe for Filmmaking
October 16, 2014
by Max Mooney
It was a Wednesday morning at 9am, and I was sitting in my first college class ever. I was terrified. I’d only ever made small movies by myself, and the film program sounded somewhat daunting during the interview process. Every student was silent, trying desperately not to make eye contact. We’d been told numerous times that a film class becomes a family over the course of the year, but in that moment we were all shy strangers. I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d gotten myself into.
Suddenly, a man emerged from what appeared to be a closet. He bounced across the room and began a PowerPoint. No attendance, no introducing ourselves, he shot straight into the lesson without even telling us he was the teacher. The room was now pulsating with energy. We pulled out our notebooks, ready to write down anything he uttered about the art of film-making. But to our surprise, he wasn’t talking about film; he was explaining the perfect recipe for fried chicken. We were all flummoxed. Were we in the right class? As if responding to our apprehension, he pulled out a camera and showed us the absolute bare bones of operating it. He then divided us into groups and gave us a two page script and a camera. He told us we had twenty minutes to shoot the script. If it sounds like things happened fast, they did.
Our groups ran outside and quickly began piecing together how we’d film it. We didn’t know each other, but we had a job and suddenly had to collaborate. In that moment we banded together and had to move past any lingering awkwardness. With our eyes on the clock we filmed the scene. We had to work with instincts, not intellect.
After the twenty minutes were up, we headed back inside. We were all talking, laughing even. The teacher bounded back into the room. He pulled up his PowerPoint and once again started talking about fried chicken, but this time he tied it to film. He began an elegant speech on how film-making, like cooking, requires a nearly perfected recipe, but a great cook/filmmaker knows when to operate on instincts and throw in some spices. It’s hard to articulate how important this lesson was. He forced every one of us to get out of our heads and re-conceptualize film-making. He allowed me to look at my art differently that day, and more importantly connect with my fellow classmates.
I now know how lucky I am to go to a film school where I picked up a camera on the first day.
Also, if anyone’s wondering, the fried chicken recipe is amazing.