La fémis (Summer School) : Pocket Films workshop (France)

31 May 2013. Published by Benoît Labourdette.

The fémis (National School of picture and sound, Paris - France) offers a “Summer School”, which is each year a documentary filmmaking course during two months for students from around the world.

I assure the animation of the beginning of the summer school. I make students do films, in a very collective way, with small cameras, to bring them together, and enroll in an openness to creativity. I teach them making films in one shot, so that we can watch movies together just after their completion, talk to possibly re-make them, etc..

This is actually a work of writing : to meet the reality, by filming, to test its proposed representation of reality (documentary) in the concrete manufacturing. Do feel that the ideas are in action in the meeting, in improvisation sometimes, especially in a collective dimension.

This year, the fifteen students came from Algeria, India, Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Chile, Comoros, Russia, Congo DRC.

During these three days of work, very intense, my requirement was to ask them to make movies, which for a number of them will be released, not exercises, as well as being still in generous to bring something to the viewer project, which I think is the essence of cinema :

  • I started a collective film made by the 15 students in one shot, so very complex to set up, which forces to be fully attentive to the other.
  • Then I gathered in small groups of three, let them make films from words, under the initiative Filming words, with a voice-over, so in the clip, to concretely practice formal separation between image and sound, so work immediately set audio-visual form.
  • Then the next day, I asked them to shoot out the window at them, and tell a memory, in order not just to tell a memory, but to bring an emotion, a sense for the viewer , not for yourself.
  • Then I asked them, in small groups, to make a portrait of someone they did not knew before : to meet, ask someone to do a film about him.
  • I asked them in small groups, to make an animated film is a documentary about a philosophical concept.
  • I suggested to the next, individual work : do the interview of an object : they film the object, and make its voice in voice-over. An object that tells about his own life. A true documentary, so...
  • And finally, the last day, I asked them to do, in small groups, a documentary about a street, offering, in the street, a device that was staged to be in the real, true documentary information. It was the result of the work, physical investment, as authors, in reality, to produce a truly cinematic writing, singular, unique and rich.

During these three days of work, 52 films had been made by the 15 students, for a total of more than 3 hours, some really striking. It is found that personal look, singular, the world often comes very quickly, on a gross basis. Then it deserves to be dug, worked, but it is very useful to quickly enter into action, in order to have material to work on.

We organized, it’s very important, a small public screening on the last day, of a selection of films, so that the workshop is its purpose : to bring something to the audience.

Workshops for filmmaking with pocket cameras that I run through schools of art, cinema and other vocational training centers (Femis, Le Fresnoy, ESAV Toulouse, CEFPF,Imagine Institute Ouagadougou...). Appropriating very light production techniques for making professional grade movies. I work highlighting creativity, do it, and very high requirement on content and methodologies. I hosted since 2006, tens of workshops “Pocket Films”. Only a few examples are presented (...)