"Modern stories should make the mind stretch, challenging stereotypes, meaning." - D.L.
S U N N Y
a student film released May 27th, 2016
AUDIENCE REACTION OF FILMS, MAY 2016
released May 27th, 2016
"It is the Tao of mixing this cosmic weirdness with the practical and physical, which will allow you to move, moment by moment, through parallel worlds to achieve your dreams.” - D.L.
raw clips from "Nube" - music added
released May 25th, 2016
Millikan Film Production
Making narrative films is surprisingly complex. Students learn this quickly when they are assigned to develop their first scene for a film. For most of them, it's never as good as they had imagined and the students who aren't passionate about filmmaking usually abandon the endeavor. It's easy to quit because so much almost always goes unexpectedly before production, during production and after production with the writing, actors, the crew, the equipment, the editing process, and the tight deadlines. Our Intermediate & Advanced Classes produce about 15 films per semester. during a 55 minute period (class time). The circumstances of how we film virtually guarantees that it will be a challenge for all groups to complete their films. Everything from sound, lighting, and getting great performances out of actors will be an enormous challenge. Keep in mind that even at today's finest film schools, most students aren't making films until the third or fourth year of their film school education. Even when films aren't completed, many valuable skills are still learned that can be applied beyond the classroom (grit, photography, writing, collaboration, media literacy). The budget for all of our our films is ZERO most of our emphasis is put on telling a good story. In class, we study pacing and structure of the classical paradigm that has proven for thousands of years to be able to hold an audiences attention.
The primary emphasis of the Millikan Film Production program is to learn how to create a story that uses the classical story structure (though some students veer away from it). In this story design, a hero has some obstacles to achieve a difficult goal. For individual practice throughout the semester, every student develops their own portfolio on ClassNube where their talents can be given direct feedback by their peers and the teacher. There are usually a group of students with a higher interest acting, and some who have a high interest in using cameras and equipment. By viewing work samples, students are assigned roles in groups based on the amount of effort and overall quality of their work.
As an extra project after getting to know some of the students, the teacher/director develops a story and works with students during homeroom and after school to guide them through the acting, directing, and cinematic process. By writing and directing a film, the teacher gets to work closely with students to teach them one-on-one how to become better writers and directors on their own films. At the same time, it gives some students in our Advanced Program, opportunities to play dynamic roles in front of the camera. Many times, talented actors join our program and have been disappointed in the student films they were cast in; with the homeroom project, our program has been able to consistently attract undiscovered acting talent. Most of these actors also learn how to make a film throughout the year, which is particularly useful in today's participatory media landscape.
Unlike most film programs or in Hollywood, there are a higher number of non-stereotypical lead female roles in our films. Because there are disproportionately higher interest in acting by female students, many of our lead roles are often played by them. The world is changing at a very rapid rate, our program puts a high value on breaking any kind of old or new stereotype.
EXPLORATORY FILM: A ten-week condensed course for sixth graders who learn how to view media without being influence too easily, how to speak and pitch ideas publicly, learn acting for the camera, photography composition basics, and how to write, develop, and shoot a scene with a small group.
BEGINNING & INTERMEDIATE FILM: Sitting in a classroom six hours a day is not easy, but making learning fun and meaningful requires the right tools, some experimentation, and recognizing that what works for many students may still not work for the other half of the classIn the beginning classes, there are so many interest levels being served that it's fair to say when some students are thriving while others are not engaged. Some students thrive on independent work groups and others have to be told what to do step-by-step. Students are taught film basics, learn how to become media literate, and by the end of the semester, students shoot one scene as a group project.
ADVANCED FILM PRODUCTION: Four days a week, students spend 6th Period and Homeroom (90 minutes) in the Advanced Film Production Class. For the Advanced Film Production Class, self-motivated, flexible, and well-mannered individuals who are resourceful, creative, and can be trusted with equipment and leading a film crew in a respectful manner are ideal candidates. Due to the high demand and limited space in the Advanced Program, students must be interviewed, provide a sample of their work, and must have a record of good behavior that demonstrates responsibility and a respectful attitude toward all of their peers.
This film program is not designed to support actors and performers who have little or no interest in filmmaking. The purpose of the class is to learn how to collaborate with others. Filmmakers who have strong visions at the expense of their group members are encouraged and supported by the teacher to pursue those projects outside of the classroom. If the content is appropriate, we can present independent work at our film showcases at the end of the semester. The priority of our program is to learn to work well with others, make narratives that use the classical paradigm, and to challenge stereotypes in the media. Students who do not work well independently should consider a program with a teacher-directed format with direct instruction (like beginning film or another elective). The breadth of the skills that are required for this class and the variations in the pacing of projects make the class incredibly complex for middle school students. It has become clear that the skills needed simply cannot be taught in a semester. High grades or good behavior usually don't predict a successful experience for a student in our program. However, a respectful attitude and responsible behavior coupled with a HIGH INTEREST in FILMMAKING are good predictors of success. Historically, a student with a high interest in filmmaking doesn't give up as easily as a straight A student who drops out of the group and maybe even the class when they suspect their grade point average may be affected. Projects are are almost always a challenge to complete, but we view the setbacks as part of the learning experience and the development of perseverance in our students. What outsiders may call a failure, we view as a learning experience. Having initiative and problems solving skills are some of the most valuable characteristics our film students develop.
Media literacy means having the ability to filter all forms of media before they become beliefs and values that shape our thinking.
Technology has created a media culture that values popular opinion over critical thought. Teaching media literacy in film class is about creating an awareness among a new generation of students who often believe (whether they're aware of it or not) that successful people are the ones with the most followers. Critical thinking is a foundation for understanding media, creating media and collaborating with others. In our program, we reflect on the media that entertains us and the media (films) that we create using the the latest technology that is available on most iPhones. Film class is a launching point for students to go on a more thoughtful journey as they join today's participatory media landscape.
Using ClassNube, every student is a teacher in the classroom by using the principle of constructive feedback. A model that emphasizes group work, storytelling, creativity and a student-led environment is applied in the classroom. Through a hands-on film program that teaches perseverance and creative output, students create films from beginning to end. Students are first introduced to the basic shots and strategies that movie-makers and artists use to tell stories. Students then generate a concept and use public speaking skills to pitch these ideas to the class.
The goal is to instill the importance of classical storytelling methods in students. With the help of The Academy of Motion Picture of Arts, the program teaches visual literacy to encourage active (vs. passive) viewing of media. Students are taught to recognize stereotypes and fallacies. In addition, collaboration skills are taught and practiced to increase a self-awareness that will increase the likelihood of success in creative groups and places beyond the classroom.
Discover your passion. Get good at it.
As teachers, some of us view ourselves curators of knowledge and insight. We have a chance to play a meaningful role in harnessing the passion of our students. It's not easy to do this without the right tools.
A group of teachers and I developed ClassNube as efficient workflow and feedback tool inside the classroom. It seemed so promising that we joined the Global Learning Xprize Competition to explore taking the concept of high frequency feedback that socializes learning and makes learning fun.
In film class, we use ClassNube to empower students to be creative (hopefully, for the rest of their lives). Creating, after all, is what makes a lot of us happy.
Working at a high creative level, however, is such a complex and taxing process that it is easy to abandon altogether. It takes grit and requires collaboration, which is often the key to meaningful achievements.
We've had many successes, but It's not an easy to duplicate because of the variables. After exhaustive research of the edtech out in the market, the solution simply did not seem to exist.
Because we're creative, we created a prototype of tool that we named ClassNube. Its helps teach better, learn faster. Exponentially.
It takes a village, and I grew up in many of them.
My dad was in the Air Force so I lived in lots of places (San Antonio, Wichita Falls, Montgomery, Alabama, Panama City, Northern California, Spain, Germany) throughout my high school years. I graduated from the University of Southern California (USC), and worked as a copywriter for Nike and in product development at a Japanese Car company. I spent several years living on Venice Beach Canals and Los Feliz. Today I live in Los Angeles with my wife and two boys.
As a film teacher, I believe that storytelling is powerful because it reframes information to give cohesion to information that's easy to forget. Before students make films in class, I teach the classical narrative structure. That is, creating a character within a narrative who encounters a great deal of obstacles to achieve a seemingly impossible goal.
As a kid, I switched schools frequently so my education was relatively patchy and low quality, except for one or two teachers. It was the personalized feedback that I received from those teacher that was the most encouraging. As a result, I find it interesting to develop tools for teachers to provide and facilitate feedback to their students that should make learning fun, fast, and meaningful.
MillikanFilm.com - Narrative film production & media literacy taught by l. de barraicua
Change the Story, Revolutionize Consciousness.
“The more we delve into quantum mechanics the stranger the world becomes; appreciating this strangeness of the world, whilst still operating in that which you now consider reality, will be the foundation for shifting the current trajectory of your life from ordinary to extraordinary. D.L.
The Drama Game
Official Selection of the Academy Award Qualifying Los Angles Shorts Film Festival, 2015
Rivals take a routine game to the limits when a group of drama students compete to stay in character the longest.
Tales of Miscommunication & Fractured Personalities
Highlights from "Let Me Out" and "Conduit." These student films are about miscommunication and how media influences the personalities of our optimistic youth.
Millikan Middle School
A commercial produced for Millikan Middle School
A clip about President Obama's fictional youth
The Teenager Problem
a delusional student gets peer counseling that helps him escape his plight in life.
Change the Story, Revolutionize Consciousness.
Los Angeles' Community Recognition of MillikanFilm.com
Our focus is to learn what it takes (grit, collaboration, photography, storytelling, editing, acting) to get better at making movies. Entry fees to festivals and awards are usually $25-$65. Even so, it can be demoralizing for a talented budding artist not to have their film accepted or rejected for a myriad of unknown reasons. Focusing on winning awards is a distraction at our level because we have so much room for improvement (90% of our students have never made a narrative film). We promote a growth mindset that encourages risks, understands mistakes, and an understanding of the creative workflow. On a purely cognitive level, filmmaking is a creative in endeavor that requires endless problem solving and creative synthesis, which happens to be at the top of the Bloom's Taxonomy pyramid. In other words, our students aren't just copying down vocabulary words or memorizing answers. What they do is challenging and the outstanding shine because of their passion for wanting to be good storytellers. It's not the awards (which will come later), it's not their grade, and it's not much else but a genuine interest in filmmaking. As a result of their passion, students naturally become better writers, speakers, communicators, collaborators, photographers, editors, and actors - it gives them an authentic reason to become better at writing and using figurative, abstract concepts to communicate a theme, not to mention a plethora of organizational and academic skills.
Occasionally festivals make submissions free, and students send them a link to their film that is evaluated on a purely artistic level. Thank you to the LA Shorts Film Festival (an Academy-Award qualifying festival) and the International Children's Film Festival for recognizing our students for their work in acting, writing, and directing.
The LA Shorts Film Festival
The kid brother to the LA Film Festival, the LA Shorts Fest is an internationally recognized and celebrated festival for short films of exceptional caliber. In 2015, thousands of films were submitted for consideration. Held in September at the LA Live! venue (next to the Staples Center), this festival applauds iconic and breakout filmmakers with awards, panel discussions, and world premieres for shorts from production companies such as Pixar.
We have actors, cinematographers, and film development professionals talk to our students about telling a better story. Checkout this clip of Elliot Blake explaining what a modern day film studio looks for in a narrative project.
Visual Literacy according to Martin Scorcese
The important of what we we're learning.
Visual literacy and vocabulary is an essential tool in today's participatory media landscape.
George Lucas on Teaching Visual Literacy
Media Literacy Education Lessons
provided to our film program by the
Academy of Motion Picture of Arts and Sciences