Year 12 student Adrian Hui has been busy making films and applying to university film programs. He’d wanted to enrol in an International Baccalaureate arts course as he entered Year 11, so he chose film – and, now, he’s hooked.
"I used to want to go to business school, but I took this course and it changed my direction," says Hui. "I hope to use my talents to shed light on injustice and help people choose compassion and empathy. For a message to resonate, it must appeal to the emotions, and that’s the power of film as a storytelling medium."
While they might not be planning to pursue careers in cinema, Hui’s peers in the IB film course are equally dedicated to their craft. Pandemic notwithstanding, they’re still shooting footage, even if it’s using their cellphone cameras.
"Our students are required to create three short films for their portfolios by the end of Year 12," says David Crawford, who teaches IB Film Studies and co-ordinates film and digital media at the Upper School. "Generally, they work in groups and take a different role for each one so they learn about writing a script, acting, directing and editing. But while the students were quarantining at home, that wasn’t possible. Nor did they have access to any of UCC’s excellent equipment."
Notes Year 12 film student Michael Goralski, "The solution to these two problems was what Mr. Crawford and Mr. Peterson named 'The Isolation Project.' We had to film using our phones, and we had to act as different characters in our own film. Instead of distributing roles among members of a team, each of us had to fulfill every role ourselves: screenwriting, cinematography, editing, sound, AND acting. As a result, the film took an enormous amount of time and effort. But ultimately, I felt it to be very rewarding in the end knowing that I produced a short film entirely on my own."
Crawford currently has 28 Year 12 students and 19 Year 11 students, a number that fluctuates from year to year, he says. The students learn to both create and analyze films, preparing an IB portfolio that encompasses crafting shorts, a video essay comparing two films, and a written essay. (To watch the excellent comparative studies done by Goralski and Hui, visit UCC’s YouTube channel.)
Now that the students have returned to campus, they’re working again in groups, albeit with proper social distancing and mask requirements. Soon, there will be another crop of short films ready for review. A number of the shorts will be screened on April 8 at the Online Film Festival, a collaboration between UCC and Branksome Hall. Usually, the festival is held in person at the Mt. Pleasant Cinema, but the tradition will continue in a virtual form this year.
"We’re keeping our fingers crossed for Spring 2022," says Crawford, "but, meanwhile, the show must go on."