My Experience at the 2015 Academy (A Student’s Perspective)

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Guest post by Joe Turman

 The wonderful world of filmmaking can be daunting if you are a new player to the game. There are hundreds of different colleges and universities that offer degrees in filmmaking, but the well-known majority of them cost the same amount as a brand new Mustang. To add to that, if you aren’t sure about pursuing a career in filmmaking, that would be a waste of your time, and your Mustang! And if you are like me, a seventeen year old working a part time job while looking at filmmaking as a future career, the horizon definitely looks daunting. But, this year I was able to attend the Midwest Christian Filmmakers Academy, a week long filmmaking camp with lots of hands on training and teaching. I had an amazing time and I can’t wait to share it! I’ll be right back after this paragraph break.

The first thing I would like to talk about is the learning experience. On the first official day of the Academy, John-Clay Burnett and Andrew Bartlett taught us about the basics of film making. We learned how to brief a client, draw and animate a storyboard, and setup a three point lighting system! To some, this may seem basic, but it is necessary to know in order to create a solid film. Later in the day, Carol Kiemle taught us about art department and set etiquette. The following days all included working on a professional film set. We shot a commercial for a fake orange juice company, and then created an amazing promotional film for the Meadows on Lind wedding service. Overall, the Academy focuses on hands on experience but mixes in a classroom learning experience.

Secondly, the hospitality is something you will never forget. Each staff member, whether teacher or chef, was willing to put time aside to answer your questions or help you with a problem. Now one of the most important parts of any camp or academy is the food. Now most film schools usually leave you to fend for yourself or pay ten dollars for a microwaved, no protein, watered down cafeteria meal with a side of hydrogenated vegetable oil. But at the Academy, Lori Kenney (a.k.a our crew mom), always made sure we were fed with three home-cooked meals a day, with dessert! That is way better than any other cafeteria I have heard of! Hannah Kenney kept us rolling along with the schedule and we slid into comfy beds complete with comforters and pillows provided by the Pens and Needles lodge. A good night’s rest was certainly available here.


Thirdly, our personal walk with Christ was encouraged. We were encouraged to set time aside for personal devotions every morning. Nearly every day of the week we had some form of group devotions. God was put first in everything, from simply eating lunch to the beginning of each day. At the end of the week, we were all asked to share something we learned over the period of time.

And finally, what film camp would be complete without fun? I had an amazing time meeting new friends, playing board games, and we even had our own midnight choir group! Some of the best moments were in the most unexpected times! Like the mischievous play that two students started by throwing the giant reflector discs like Frisbees! But Carol made sure that came quickly to an end and gave another lesson on set etiquette.


The Midwest Christian Filmmakers Academy provides a Christian atmosphere that a typical film school cannot offer. With great teaching, delicious food, awesome staff, and mischievous play, I am definitely game for next year!

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Joe Turman attended the 2015 Midwest Christian Filmmakers Academy, and has since been brought on as a writer for the MWCFA blog. Joe shares insights from the perspective of a beginning filmmaker!