How to Get Involved in Film Production in High School
Introducing the field of film production
Are you interested in the arts? If so, there are many vehicles for expressing your creativity, from theater to writing to visual arts. One off-the-beaten-path creative route to consider is film production, otherwise know as filmmaking. In a nutshell, film production is essentially creating movies long or short, fictional or documentary, serious or funny—pretty much anything you can think of.
Film production is a respected form of performing arts, and, should you choose to pursue it, it can provide you with many career opportunities. Many colleges offer filmmaking in some form as a major or minor. While many people associate films with acting, they can involve many roles aside from the performance side. A lot goes into making a movie, including a great deal of work on the production end. In a small production, you may very well end up taking multiple roles.
Possible roles you could take on in this field (in high school and beyond)
Producing involves leading a film project or some specific part of the project. You will also delegate tasks, coordinate aspects of the production, and make major or final decisions such as selecting a script, securing financing, and supervising many aspects of the film.
As a writer on a film project, you will be working on the general story of a film and/or the specific script. You may be adapting an existing work, or writing an original story. A similar role is storyboard artist—in this job, you use visual imagery to tell the story. For more writing opportunities in high school, check out Creative Writing Opportunities for High School Students.
Acting in film is somewhat different from that in stage performances, but often uses overlapping or similar skill sets. If you like to perform in theater, you may well enjoy acting in a film production.
As a director, you instruct actors as they perform and help them convey the message that the producer, writer, and team as a whole is hoping to convey. This may involve giving stage directions—specific actions related to the actor’s positioning on the stage—or suggesting how they express certain lines, as well as other aspects of their performance.
Film production involves numerous support roles, such as costumes, makeup, lighting, sound, scenery, props, music, practical special effects, and design. Essentially, every other role that’s necessary to make the project happen falls into this category.
Filming involves actually operating the equipment. You will need to knowledgeable about operating the equipment in order to be involved in filming—or be a very quick learner with technology.
As a film editor, you are responsible for turning the raw footage into a more carefully composed film. You might also add in any digital effects or changes necessary to telling the story.
Finding opportunities to participate and learn requisite skills
In high school, there may not be many obvious or hands-on film production opportunities, so you may need to actively seek them out.
If your high school offers film production courses, this is an obvious place to start. You might also take related courses, such as film appreciation or film theory. Since filmmaking involves numerous other skills, courses in related areas such as art, photography, music, acting, public speaking, and so on are good topics to pursue as well. They will help you expand your knowledge base in ways that may be applicable to film production.
Film is also something you might study in a school-based extracurricular. If your school doesn’t have a filmmaking club or activity, you might also enjoy drama club, photography club, or theater. If your school has a television or radio show or network, this is another route to pursue. Or you can start your own! If you want to gain some leadership experience and fill a niche that is not yet available in your school, look into creating your own film club. While How to Start a Film Club in High School focuses more on film appreciation and watching films, this is a great place to start for learning the basics of starting a club on a similar topic.
You could also look into programs outside of your school in your larger community. For instance, you might look into programs through community art organizations or local colleges with programs. Immersive summer camps may have options for filmmaking as well. For instance, the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) has a prestigious summer program for high school students interested in the arts and offers a film option.
Finally, try exploring your interest in film production independently. You could start by just making short movies with your friends, but if you are willing to put forth the effort, you can also expand into working with YouTube, GoPro, and other film technologies. Think about how you will demonstrate what you have accomplished to colleges. For instance, you might enter a competition or try to show your film in a festival.
For More Information
Filmmaking can be a creative and rewarding path for students and professionals alike. If this is a route you are considering pursuing in college or as a career, it’s not too early to get started on learning about it—and creating movies.
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