Teach to Empower
Updated – June 7, 2022
Located somewhere in the Niger delta, there is a remote village, whose native inhabitants, have very limited access to internet, due to the lack of infrastructure and high cost of WiFi data. Many young Nigerians in these areas have very few resources available to them, including adequate education or jobs, and resort to very low paying back braking work in dangerous construction sites or online scams to just make ends meet.
“We don’t like working on building sites, ‘cause most times we use all of the money we earned to buy medication due to illness and injuries we incur during a job. That’s the only ‘legal’ way for boys our age to raise funds, except for a very few percentage of us, like myself, that actually go online to carry out ‘love scams’ to earn money. I no longer want to do that ‘cause I’m causing more damage than even the ‘wicked’ and greedy politicians in our world.”Perekime Bekesu
SEE to ACT, committed to empower young minds with a creative and collaborative outlet, is providing film-making education, as part of a new pilot project. Students learn life skills and gain confidence as they go through the entire process of creating a short film, whether its a music video, or a short narrative, experimental or documentary film. Making a film is a multi-disciplinary field and requires an array of life skills, such as organizing, managing, conceptualizing, familiarity with equipment, understanding visual composition, editing, distribution, marketing and most importantly collaboration. Not only is film-making a means to sustain and re-invigorate a culture by re-introducing storytelling and traditions, but it is also a group and collaborative activity, which demands that all people involved in production work together towards a single vision of the creative work, which is typically under the guidance of the director and executive producer.
Once a week, we group chat on Whatsapp, and I am able to teach my class with very limited resources. Because the village is in a remote part of Nigeria, the community does not have regular access to electricity, water and Internet. They have to pay for their own data plans, which is very costly for them, so they have to find ways to supplement their very low wages, and decide whether to eat that week or to learn about film-making. Last month we discussed the importance of Composition, specifically Framing and Angles, with regards to telling a compelling story. We also discussed the importance of Shot Size as a means to communicate both the emotional impact of a scene as well as it’s temporal flow.
This week we are discussing ‘Continuity’ and ‘Screen Direction’ as critical concepts when it comes to seamlessly maintaining a narrative flow in a storyline. Distractions, such as unintentional jump cuts or, or bad screen direction can break that flow, and pull the audience out of the story experience.
All five of my students are developing a music video project they’ve written and composed. We are currently in the pre-production stage of their project. Along with the regular course work, they are discovering the importance of story-boarding as it is an essential aspect of pre-production. It’s the stage in which you are pre-visualizing the entire story line of your film from beginning to end. It’s also a great way to list out all of the camera and equipment set ups, locations, props and decor elements, as well as all of the blocking for actors. Typically it’s done by drawing or sketching all of the shots that make up each scene of the entire film project. However, because they do not have access to many resources other than the camera on their mobile devices, which were kindly donated, I’ve asked them to take still shots instead. This pre-visualizing process has been used by some of the greatest filmmakers of our time, like Alfred Hitchcock (North by Northwest, Psycho) and David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia).
The Story as told by Elechi
“First the story is about a couple … having a romantic moment of their life..in the first scenes..they were having a good time… from the room ..to the kitchen….then what the story was trying to tell actually was about the actor having an affair outside their relationship…as the both of them were in the kitchen making breakfast….he leaves to get something from the room..so his phone rings and she picked-up the phone and finds out he was seeing someone else…she gets angry and decides to leave..so she get her things and angrily leaves the house….
He tries to talk to her ..and following her to the car .. but she wasn’t ready to listen.. All that was one day.
The next day he goes out to look for her and try to reason things out with her, and she accepts him back… that was another day. The next day they were sitting out having a chat ..and he surprisingly proposed to her…she said yes…and that was literally the end of the story. Happily ever after.”
First draft of the Storyboard for their Final Project.