This year, DCIFF’s educational programming expands beyond the film festival week with a 6-week after school program for high school students in partnership with DC International School. Students study the foundations of creating on-screen interviews by exploring storytelling and script-crafting, elements of the interview, and technical aspects of filming and editing.
In sessions focused on storytelling, students have debated the competing importance of context, conflict, and motivation in cultivating stories that an audience will care to hear and see. To practice crafting their own stories, students shared filmed accounts of a broken arm, the disappointing results of a soccer team tryout, and learning how to ask uncomfortable questions, among other topics.
As sessions moved on to interviewing techniques, the group discussed building rapport with an interview subject, planning the topic and order of a line of questions, and probing for more information without planting a desired answer. In breakout rooms, mock interview groups experimented with these techniques and through practice identified the small but impactful difference made by asking open-ended questions (“When do you feel most energized in your work?” versus “Do you like your job?”).
An Emmy award winning Documentary Producer and Cinematographer for Tegna Media, Spencer Bruttig will be leading upcoming sessions on filming technique and various factors to consider, from locations, lighting, and sound to time restraints and other logistical planning factors.
In the next couple of weeks, students will be planning, filming, and producing their own on-screen interviews with bilingual Washingtonians to explore community members’ experience of inhabiting multiple languages. Currently, students are preparing to send out their requests to potential interview subjects and are drafting scripts to develop a line of questioning. Once complete, students’ interview films will not only be screened at the DCIFF High School Film Festival (March 13-14), but they will also be saved in HumanitiesDC’s Digital Museum. (DCIFF’s free after school program for highschool students is made possible by the DC Humanities Council.)
(Top photo courtesy of Engin Akyurt)