1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Showcasing the Future of Film

June, 2009
Leave a comment 3292 views

IMG 559  Hundreds are waiting in line at a packed event where films are shown on a dozen monitors simultaneously while filmmakers are talking screenplays with each other at the workshops. After a series of premiere screenings featuring filmmakers from various nationalities and backgrounds, it culminates with the final screening of the best film of the night. With electricity flowing in the air and everyone on their feet as the filmmaker holds the crystal trophy high up in the air, we all sense that we are taking part in something special. We are at a place where the future is now—the 2nd annual Shanghai Student Film Festival.

  The 2nd annual Shanghai Student Film Festival (S2F2) was held on April 17th, 2009 at the Performance Arts Center of the Shanghai American School Puxi campus. The festival started out last year as a simple event to display the video works of students in Shanghai, but has since evolved into an innovative event that serves as a platform for students to communicate with one another through a creative and visual medium. This year over 150 films were submitted and more than 400 spectators were in attendance. The 2nd annual S2F2 is another collaborative effort by teachers and staff from Concordia International School Shanghai, British International School Shanghai, Shanghai Community International School, and Shanghai American School.

  David Gran, a film teacher at SAS and one of the key organizers of the S2F2 along with Mikey McKillip (SCIS) and several other teachers, came up with the concept of a “student driven” film festival from their meeting at the Learning 2.0 Conference two years ago. Their goal was to put together "A venue not only to create but rather show the video works done by students in Shanghai". “The 2nd annual S2F2 is a continuation of last year’s success, but it is even more student driven this year,” David says.

  In addition to the film screening, workshops were held to enhance interaction among the participants. Acclaimed comic book artist and writer, Scott McCloud, attended the event as a special guest from the USA and provided the opening remarks, “the art of story telling”, for the festival, which proves to be very inspiration for many of the students whom attended.

  The festival screening is done in two parts. The first part is a “film showcase” where a series of films are displayed on 12 monitors simultaneously. As you walk down the Hallway in the Performance Arts Center, films are on display left and right like an art gallery exhibition, which created quite an extravaganza. Then the S2F2 event closed out with the official screening for the award winning films. There are individual winning categories for elementary, middle, and high school and the winners are selected by a panel of judges consisting of established filmmakers and producers from the industry.

  “How much the quality improved was amazing. We really raised the bar this year,” David Gran said.

  Most of the students are first time filmmakers who just completed their first year of studies in digital video. At SAS, students do not need any prior film experience to take digital video production. It is a one-year program where students learn all aspects of filmmaking including storyboarding, sound recording, scriptwriting, cinematography, editing, and animation. All Students are required to produce a narrative film as their final project, and many of these “in class films” later became top winning films at the S2F2.

  What makes S2F2 so uniquely different from any other film festival in the world is the fact that all works are done by the students and for the students. There are a number of films that really demonstrate how these students have integrated filmmaking with other areas of study. In Labbing Out Loud- Friction Factors, director Elaine Jiang uses video to incorporate what she had learned in science through a hip and experimental documentary. The subject of physics was made fun and was presented in a visually appealing fashion. The film won Best Documentary in the middle school division.

  And then there is In the City of Culture, the film that took home both the newly developed S2F2 Culture Award and best cinematography in the high school division, which reflects the student’s experience of living in Shanghai through visual dazzling art. The director Benedict Wong uses stop motion animation and hyper editing to identify Shanghai as a very lively and high tech city in the world today.

Scott McCloud   The film that won Best Narrative in the High School division was Invanity, a narrative about a revolutionary corporation that treats clients who are vain; however, the company’s operation is short lived so clients are left with their problems unsolved and vain. The film is directed by Cailin Lowery and Meagin Peake, both of whom are juniors currently enrolled in the IB film program at Shanghai American School.

  The closing film of the night was none other than the Best Film of the 2009 S2F2 event, Solution, a music video about inner struggle and identity search. Solution is Nelson Zhang’s directorial debut, and the process of filming was a self-discovery process for the fifteen year-old sophomore from SAS. “I never thought of myself as gifted in art or music… in fact, I was never good at drawing or playing instruments,” Nelson says. “I decided to take digital video to fulfill my art requirement. I figured at least it’s related to computers, which is an area that I have a lot of confidence in”.

  Drawing from his own life experience as the blueprint, Nelson tells a very emotional story of an overly gifted math student who struggles to find a “solution” to his “research”… only at the end realizing that he had already solved it long ago.

  Solution was produced by a two men film crew consisting of only Nelson and a friend. During the filming, Nelson often had to rely on the remote to control the camera and even had to take many of the shots while acting since he also plays the main actor in the film. "One thing I really love about filmmaking is that you have to think like an engineer and make things work with what you have," Nelson says. It took Nelson a month to complete the film. After watching his film, his parents are very happy that Nelson has found his artistic outlet and are very proud of his accomplishment.

  David Gran & Nelson Zhang “Filmmaking taught me how to organize and communicate my ideas to people,” Nelson says. “The ability to tell a story is very useful. I’m sure it will come in handy when I need to prove a hypothesis in the future". Nelson plans to pursue higher education at Stanford or MIT in computers and he is looking to merge the two fields of computer and film and apply them to his future study and career goals.

  In many ways, all the international schools involved are taking a new approach to their film programs by teaching students ways to integrate filmmaking with other areas of study. This is why the S2F2 event is so unique because here we get to watch films about history, science, music, culture and any other elements one can think of. In addition, the quality of videos is truly a testament to all the film teachers involved. “That’s the main purpose of teaching them filmmaking - so they have another method of communication,” David says. “Film is a great career choice right now for most major companies are no longer just pulling kids out of business schools but film school as well for their creativity and ability to tell a story,” David adds.

  S2F2 looks to build up the student film community in Shanghai and gradually expand to other parts of the world by networking with other festivals, including upcoming cooperation with Taipei American School, Korean International School, film night in Beijing, and many more to create a bigger platform to showcase student films in the future.

  One final piece of advice offered by David Gran is that “If you want to be a filmmaker, you film. Approach anything you love to do and don’t be afraid of failing. Just get out there and do it”.


By Richard Chung

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • E-mail this story to a friend!
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • MSN Reporter
  • MySpace
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • Yahoo! Buzz

admin Feature ,

Related Articles

  1. August 12th, 2009 at 14:24 | #1

    good work here

  2. October 21st, 2009 at 17:22 | #2

    Great. Now i can say thank you

  3. October 23rd, 2009 at 19:21 | #3

    Great. Now i can say thank yo

  4. cana
    October 24th, 2009 at 19:06 | #4

    Now i can say thank

  5. work jeans
    October 26th, 2009 at 18:15 | #5

    grace site.

  6. October 30th, 2009 at 19:54 | #6

    grace site yaor two.

  7. October 31st, 2009 at 11:14 | #7

    grace site yaor two.

  8. November 1st, 2009 at 12:43 | #8

    hi. I review you site

  9. March 21st, 2010 at 03:08 | #9

    Hello all. And Bye.

  1. August 12th, 2009 at 03:53 | #1
  2. August 12th, 2009 at 18:03 | #2