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March 20, 2020
by: Michael Q. Hanlon, Étude Theater and Film Teacher

Filmmaker Shares Industry Experience in the Classroom

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Students at Étude High School participate in seminars that develop their ability to investigate, analyze, and synthesize relevant topics and issues in our modern society through a creative lens. Seminars include visual arts, dance, engineering, theatre arts, and music. Seminars also provide a space for guest professionals to share their individual experiences in their given industry with students inside the classroom.

Recently, Cinematic Language seminar was very fortunate to have such an experience, with filmmaker Beah Travis. Although she has been involved in productions around the country, Beah is a native of Sheboygan County and has come back to film her passion project. She has reached out to a number of local organizations to get involved in different ways. She was particularly interested in connecting with students in the area in order to provide professional, hands-on experience in a way that she didn’t have access to herself.

During her first contact with the students at Étude, she shared a detailed “call sheet” (the schedule for the day of production) and talked through the diverse roles required on set (have you ever wondered what the script supervisor does?). Afterwards, she obliged us with a lengthy Q&A session. Students asked about her current project and how they might fit into it, her past projects and what she’s learned from them, and advice for aspiring filmmakers.

Beah fit in well with our school culture, stressing that she’s had to persevere through mistakes and learn from being “wrong” sometimes. She encouraged students to engage in revisions. “Never shoot the first thing you write,” she advised. Or more bluntly, “kill your darlings,” meaning that she’s had to let go of favorite scenes and characters when she realized that they didn’t serve the overall goals of her narrative.

Students are looking forward to working more with Beah in the future, either through professional workshops, shadow days on set, or feedback on the projects that they are working on themselves.

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