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Learning Filmmaking at the Adelaide One Day Film School

Some of you would recall that I've been fantasising about filmmaking for some time now. Since it's a dream that passed my 60-days-to-something approach, it's one that now persists.

So, when I first heard about the Australian Film Base (aka the International Film Base and Sydney Film Base), I kept my eyes open for the courses that they offer around the country. I wanted to attend its one week film school a couple of years ago, but I didn't really have the time nor the budget to do so. Instead, I just subscribed to their newsletter, downloaded their free resources, and read the blog posts whenever possible.

Early this year, I learned that they were going to offer the One Day Film School in Adelaide. I knew it was something that I needed to check out. So, with some support from my workplace, I signed up for it a couple of months ago.

And today, I finally attended my first official filmmaking class taught by filmmaker Colm O'Murchu.

Well, okay. Let me amend that slightly. Truth is, I once attended an intensive weekend video creation and editing course, where I ended up as part of a team that made a TV commercial for a program that was aired on telly briefly. But, the Adelaide One Day Film School is the first course that I've ever signed up for that really talked about filmmaking.

Things I really liked about the One Day Film School

1. Meeting people who love filmmaking. To me, this is the best part of the course, hands down. Having had the opportunity to talk to people who love telling stories and making movies was a real treat. It was inspiring just to share ideas and encouragement.

2. Learning about the tools and tricks of the trade. Granted, there was a lot of information to cram in one day. But, just hearing about suggested cameras, microphones, tripods, etc, as well as learning the different ways to run a casting call and understanding some filmmaking terminologies, were well worth it for me. They were definitely things that would've taken me a long time to learn if I kept to my self-taught ways.

3. The interactive sections made for some lively and inspiring moments. While the mock casting call and mock shooting were entertaining and somewhat useful, I was more drawn towards the story brainstorming activities with a partner. I guess, I just prefer activities that involve the majority of participants. Anyway, to me, the story brainstorm was especially interesting as my partner (Mary Aloisi) and I ended up having so much fun with the story that slowly developed from 5-10 minute discussions. By the end of the activity, I was still chuckling to myself about some of the scenes in my head. And, Mary and I were joking about the possibility of actually filming the story. Thanks to the excitement between the two of us, I ended up busting to write a script. In fact, I did make a start on the script on my way home. Let's see if Mary and I can finish and film it!

4. Watching some of the films made by former students. I found it quite encouraging and inspiring watching films that were created by "regular people" who simply wanted to tell stories on film. Knowing that they were done on budget and with limited time (mostly evenings and weekends), I was really pleased. It reminded me that if this is something I'd really like to do, I should be able to make it happen.

If only these things happened in the One Day Film School...

1. Communications needed to be a bit more organised. I'm pretty sure mine was somewhat an isolated case. But, I've had problems receiving the right communications from the course organisers. In fact, I almost didn't show up at the event because I was worried that I wasn't going to find anybody at the Hotel Meridien (venue of the course). Thankfully, my ever supportive husband encouraged me to go and check it out anyway. So, I did. And it was good that I did. At the event, I asked why I never got the information and I found out that the admin was sending emails to the wrong email address.

2. A quick intro/ice breaker. Really, it would've been good if we had an opportunity to at least get to know everyone in the group. A quick "hello, my name is, and I'm here because..." kind of activity at the beginning would've been a much better way to spend the time than watching an episode of Entourage. This way, people with similar or complimentary interests could've gotten to know each other a bit.

3. More variety of participants during interactive parts. A few people seemed to have been called up over and over. Perhaps, partly because they were the bravest ones in the group. But, I really would've liked to hear more from the others who could've put their hand up, given a bit more encouragement. Of course, I understand it's not always easy to get people involved.

All things considered...

For a one-day course, we did manage to cover a lot of ground even though the original outline posted on the website wasn't followed to the letter. That doesn't really matter overall. Although I did wish the topic of finance was covered a little bit more (eg, best way to find funding for a micro budget film). I know it was covered a bit, and in fact, I really appreciated learning about how much budget I would expect to use for certain types of film - and how I can stretch the budget using different skills on finding location, getting and keeping actors, extras, and crews, etc, understanding and renting gear, etc. Again, these are tips that only people who have been "walking the talk" can give. They're not easy to find in books. And, even though web searches may help, it would take so much longer to gain all those information.

I'm sure the networking drinks post-class would've been a great opportunity to connect with everyone as well. Unfortunately, I had to slip out of class half an hour earlier, as I needed to be home to look after the kids for the evening. Thankfully, some numbers and social media names were exchanged around lunch time and during class, so hopefully, some of us can keep in touch.

So yeah, I was happy that in spite my hesitation to get going this morning, I'm glad I did. If anything, it's another step towards following this filmmaking fantasy.

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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