This week at Mount Hope, we started off the session by plunging right in to a exercise that carried into a discussion about images and assumptions. For the exercise, we showed the students photographs of different people and asked them what kind of words or roles they associated with them and why they made those kinds of associations. We also challenged the students to think beyond their immediate reactions to the photos, which yielded some interesting and unexpected responses.
The students are now gearing up to start their own projects that will encourage them to think about telling stories through taking pictures. We asked them to come up with an advertising campaign that we would then execute as both a print and a broadcast advertisement. In order to help prepare them for this, we decided to get a little technical by looking into some of the mechanics of filmmaking and how a narrative is built using words, then images, before finally coming to its final incarnation as a moving image. First we watched a clip from the film O Brother Where Art Thou? which used a variety of different shots and points of view. We wanted the students to think about how these decisions can help shape a narrative. Next, we moved onto the concept of storyboarding. Using a recent story from Wired about the animation of Toy Story 3, we showed these students an example of storyboarding, and how these initial sketches are carried to their full-blown conclusions. After these brief lessons, we had our final brainstorming session before starting our projects. The students had some fantastic ideas and seemed really excited to get started next week!
During the afternoon, the students had their last session with Gamestar Mechanic. A Gamestar Mechanic game designer came to visit, which was really great for the kids to hear about what decisions went into the final product. It was a good thing to talk about in the beginning of the afternoon because the majority of students spent their time creating their own games for the remainder of the session. This was really fun (especially for me!) because students got to play each other’s creations! One student even built a game that a Gamestar Mechanic employee had trouble beating. Judging by the way some students were reluctant to turn off their computers—we had to ask them to shut down their computers even though they were *this close* to beating a level! (wince)—we’re guessing this last Saturday won’t be the last time playing Gamestar. Gamestar has been a great activity for the students and was a really awesome partnership for The LAMP. Gaming is a huge component of young people’s media consumption, and so often we hear parents and teachers complaining that their children and students sit in front of computers and television screens mindlessly playing violent games — but this is not always the case. Gamestar Mechanic is a great program that allows students to play games but also to understand the mechanics of designing games — and thinking critically about media is just the kind of mindfulness we at The LAMP want to promote.
–Megha Kohli, lead facilitator for Taking Pictures, Telling Stories