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Best of the Week 2022-2023: Teaching to the Future


St. Ed's IB junior filmmakers have been working over the last two weeks on their "Teenage Mansion" film, a project concept created by Dean of Academics & IB Coordinator Nick Kuhar years ago that empowers students to share a meaningful part of their lives in a potent, universal way. With the use of new filmmaking technology, a professional dolly and track to pull filmmakers across a backdrop set, students got a taste of the equipment professionals use to shoot cinematic films.

"The challenge of this project is to share a conflict in your life without dialogue. That's a tall order, but when students pull it off, they communicate something essential about their lives that a viewer in India, China or Russia could empathize with. Pure visual storytelling removes any language barrier, so it's a cool exercise to do as an IB World School," says Mr. Kuhar.

"This project lets students try out different production tasks in a controlled environment. Each student gets to write a silent scene he feels captures some aspect of teenage life. Then as a group, students work together to produce their scenes using a dolly and curtains with the illusion that each vignette is taking place in another room of the same long hallway. Hence, the project's title," says Film Department Chair Lydia Munnell. "This is a great first project to kickoff the year with because it asks students to consider how to tell a story purely with cinematic techniques, no dialogue. And then they have to cooperate to produce one another's scenes and adapt on the fly. In the end, they each make choices about individual cuts to pull the whole piece together."

"As a school that prioritizes digital storytelling as a key 21st century skill, the 'Teenage Mansion' project and the use of professional dollies, prime lenses and full-frame digital cameras can't be emphasized enough," says Mr. Kuhar. "With a little training, you put any student in that environment and they don't feel like a student in a film production course. They feel like young filmmakers. What that can do for a young person's confidence and identity is profound."


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