Dodge College of Film and Media Arts offers a lot of amazing summer classes.
For example, there is the The Continuous Take (FTV 329-04/529-04). Taught by
, it’s the type of fun class that most students can’t even believe is a real offering. Ever since the beginning of film, continuous shots have amazed audiences and filmmakers alike. Some of cinema’s most talented directors have challenged themselves with these types of shots. Sometimes they are used to open a film. Other times, they come in the middle, catching us off guard. Some can even be viewed as short films in their own right. Most leave us with our jaws hanging open, leaving us to wonder “Just HOW did they do that?”
Finch’s class aims analyze and deconstruct some of the most memorable continuous shots in the history of film and television. Each week, the class watches a handful of clips, from modern classics to unknown gems, and then discuss what they saw.
Last Tuesday, I sat in on one of the classes, and was amazed by how collaborative it was. Finch keeps his class size small, roughly thirteen students, to encourage an atmosphere of collaboration. Everyone has their own ideas on how shots were accomplished, and Finch helps them break down each aspect of the shot to learn its secrets.
Not only that, but everyone in the class will be shooting their own continuous take over the course of the summer. Some students, such as Joseph Weber (BA/Film Production ’17), already came prepared to talk about ideas for their project. Weber shared a short horror script he had written, and after reading it aloud, the class began a lively discussion on just how to accomplish it in one shot. The entire process was very collaborative, with students discussing the pacing of the piece, and the practical & special effects that might be needed to achieve the final product.
Trevor Stevens (BA/Film Production ’15) will be using his new-found knowledge of continuous shots for his thesis film,
. He showed the class some rough story boards of how he was going to tackle his shot, complete with location photos and a very animated explanation. He plans to shoot in the Spring.
The week before, Jeff Hodges (BA/Film Production ’16) brought in a quadcopter, modified to hold a GoPro camera, and the class took it outside to do some test shots. The result was an amazing mix of continuous shots and breath-taking views that were once only possible on million dollar budgets.
Every student I spoke to was extremely enthusiastic about the class, and Finch himself. Robby Bracker (BA/Film Production ’17) told me he already signed up for his third class with Finch.
“He promotes a very open atmosphere and encourages us to start a conversation,” Bracker said. “It makes the class more interesting.”
Finch challenges his students to get creative. If something isn’t working, it isn’t the end of the world; it just needs to be re-evaluated. He stressed that creative limitations sometimes force you to create an amazing solution that works out even better than before. But above all else, he wants them to enjoy what they are doing.
“It’s not always about story and character,” Finch says. “Sometimes, you just have to have fun, too.”