Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In the beginning...And then....Finally

Hello, readers.

I have, so far this week, had somewhere around three hundred students introduce themselves to me. This is how we're testing their speaking ability for the mid-term.

There's an empty room on the third floor of our building. I'm using this to meet with the students one by one for two minutes or so. Generally less. They tell me their name, age, hometown, family info, hobbies, passions, and something they want to be in the future. A lot of them want to be teachers. Some of them English, a few math. A handful want to be stewardesses. Two or three want to be diplomats or U.N. ambassadors like Ban Ki-Moon.

The key to not getting burned out while listening is to focus on each person as an individual. Drinking plenty of water helps, too.

It also helps that my Tuesday after school class is full of geniuses from whom I worry not about expecting too much. As such, the class has, for this month, become a sort of mini-course on cinematic storytelling. Last week was how music makes mood in movies. This week it's writing scenes with musical inspiration. We watched two movie trailers--Lost in Translation and Coraline--and mapped out the setting, characters, mood, conflict, and possible story arc of each.

In the beginning, though, we mapped out the story of Titanic, but that was on accident and mostly due to one girl, when I asked what conflict was, shouting: "Titanic! Ice mountain!"

Here's what we came up with for that movie.

Characters: Rose, Jack, Other People.

Setting: A ship.

Mood: Romantic. Sad.

Conflict: Rose wants to be with Jack. Other people, like her mother, do not want this.

Story arc: In the beginning, Jack and Rose board the Titanic. And then, they fall in love. Finally, the ship sinks, Jack dies, and Rose feels sad.

That's all you need to make two billion dollars apparently. Well, last century anyway. Now it would probably need to be in 3-D and possibly set on another planet populated by dozens and dozens of Blue Men groups.

And then, we watched a scene from Up and discussed how a scene has all the elements of an entire movie.

Finally, I formed some groups, passed out a scene worksheet with blanks for the elements we discussed, played some music, and told each group to fill out the worksheet based on how the music moved them. Next week they will write the scene.

Finally, finally, I'm going to sleep.

Happy stories, readers.


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