When I arrived at the beautiful Pens and Needles Lakeside Lodge, where the Academy was held, I walked in the door and was met with the sight of five guys kicked back in chairs. The first thing that ran through my head was, “What have I gotten myself into? I’m the only girl student stuck with a bunch of guys for an entire week?” I felt all alone! At that timely moment my dear friend Hannah Kenney (a.k.a. Assistant Director of MWCFA), greeted me with a big hug. *sigh of relief*
There are many people that have an interest in filmmaking, but do not have the resources or knowledge to make a consistent income at it, so they give up on the idea. A unique characteristic about MWCFA, is that it teaches a person the essentials of filmmaking, how to create quality promotional media for a client, and how to make a viable living at it. So on the first official day of the Academy we had class times with teachers Andrew Bartlett, John-Clay Burnett, Hannah Kenney, Joseph Santoyo, and Carol Kiemle. We were taught about the entire pre-production process, storyboarding, camera, lighting, make-up, props, sound design, and a lot more. We even had the amazing privilege of meeting and having a Q&A session with Christian filmmaker and director, Brett Varvel!
The next day, we students had the opportunity to put the practical skills we learned into action by writing, directing, and filming our own mock commercial advertising G2 Pilot Pens. We were allowed to get our hands on some of the most quality and up-to-date filming equipment I have ever seen. As you can imagine, I was nothing short of ecstatic!
The last three days of the Academy were busy, and flew by way too fast, as we filmed an official promotional video for Foltz Trucking. All students (myself included) were assigned positions to be production assistants on set. It was a very profitable experience, getting to see first-hand how a film set operates, and how all of the different departments interact with each other to communicate things in an organized fashion and keep things flowing smoothly. Film-set etiquette is probably one of the things I learned about most. It’s amusing to me how I used to think set etiquette was too strict. However, my mind changed quickly when we started working on this official production. I appreciated learning just how equally important every single department is, from Craft Services to Camera Department – everyone has their place. A film set could be very chaotic with a missing or misinformed department. That is also why good communication is vitally important among each member on set.
Finally, at the end of the last day of shooting for Foltz Trucking, we students had a surprise in store for us. Earlier in the day, Lori Kenney, Logistics Coordinator for MWCFA, gave each student a personal written invitation to the “Wrap Party”. You can imagine our surprise when a white Limousine pulled up to the door at Pens and Needles that evening! We all were escorted to the bowling alley for an evening of incredible fun. What a perfect way to end a perfect week!
As I look back on that one week of my life, I cannot help but thank God for the opportunity I had to attend this Academy. It was undoubtedly an excellent week of hands-on learning experience that a typical film school would not provide, and it was a week of spiritual encouragement and refreshment as Jesus Christ was at the center of everything we did.
Being the only girl student did push me out of my comfort zone a little bit. However, long before the week was over, we students were well acquainted with each other, and I was pleased to find how the academy staff and students felt like one big family. I wasn’t so lonely after all!