Video Essay Transcript for My Students
For this film theory and criticism course, some of you may not find this very appealing, especially if you are more of a production person and not someone who would prefer spending more time in reading books about film theories and criticism and engage in intellectual discourse relating films watched with assigned readings. But think of this way, being filmmakers, knowing film’s roots, how it develops and how it manages to survive and thrive through years and decades, are all crucial to honing you as the best filmmaker you can be. Knowing filmmaking by heart, its history, its ups and downs, its times of struggles, its times of trying to merely survive, and its times of thriving and soaring high, are of paramount importance to develop your storytelling sensibilities.
Try to also think of it this way: The first critic of a filmmaker’s work is the filmmaker himself or herself. He or she is his or her work-in-progress work’s first audience, trying to understand the intricacies of details. The filmmaker criticizes the work until he or she believes it is ready. So as filmmakers, I want you to not go that relatively more typical route of readily hating film critics and criticisms about your work. Once you put your work out there, be ready to accept that it is not anymore yours alone. You chose to share it with others and people will put their minds and hearts into the films they watch. They have shared experiences with you. Yet, they also have other experiences compared to you, making them react with the films differently from your expectations, whether partly or entirely. But remember, “Discourse puts value to an artwork. “When people discuss your work, think about your work, debate or even speculate about your work, your work becomes relevant. In one way or another, your work can have a significant impact to others.
I myself put that much appreciation to this side of film studies. I find fulfillment in understanding the nooks and cranny of film criticism and knowing film theories by heart so I can become a better storyteller. Storytelling is more than just technical skills. Sure, you can update yourself with the latest craze in filmmaking equipment, become even better than the tutorials you watched about lighting or editing, but becoming a storyteller requires a whole gamut of creativity side by side technical expertise. Come to think of it, telling stories for and/or about human beings and the world at large using the audio-visual medium involves bits and pieces (or perhaps, a lot of elements) in humanities, history, anthropology, cultural studies, among many other disciplines.
Try to avoid the route of thinking that this non-production, reading- and writing-heavy course, is boring and irrelevant. Embrace it as a short but crucial part of your student filmmaking journey. It is a 3-unit course compared to the many units of production courses you ought to finish to complete your degree. So please, read, understand, and apply things you learned through your assigned papers, as well as apply it in your own films in the future. It won’t be that easy especially at the start. But believe me, this course will make you a better storyteller.
You may not necessarily be ending up as a film critic, film reviewer, or academician, but who knows what’s in store for you in the future? Knowing the other side of a film — being at the other end of it — from making it to consuming it, makes you a more learned, more experienced filmmaker with genuine insights in your works. With it, you come full circle.