Audio Visual Production is a Sight to See

Whitney Patterson, Associate Editor

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Towards the back of room G130, a giant green screen stands situated between a cluster of tripods and microphone equipment. Just as the bell rings, students flood the room and take their places behind large Apple computers, focusing intently on piecing clips of video together. This is the Audio Visual Production room, a haven for the film junkie, future Spielberg and auditory editor extraordinaire. Audio Visual Production, and the subsequent course that follows, aptly titled Advanced Audio Visual Production, teaches students the basis of film, including how to operate advanced camera and microphone equipment and how to use editing programs such as Final Cut X and Adobe Premiere Pro.

“In the first year beginner class they teach us the basics including how to work cameras and microphones,” senior Jack McDonald said. “In this second year class we are given a lot more creative freedom. We make our own curriculum in a way by choosing what projects we want to work on.”

The two courses, taught by Sarah Mateo, revolve around the three stages of filming: pre-production, production and post-production.

“Pre-production includes planning the film, script writing, creating storyboards and making shot lists,” senior Sam Fletcher said. “Production is the process of filming with actors while post-production includes color correction and editing to make a final project.”

Fletcher, who signed up for the class because of his experience with editing, as well as McDonald, who discovered the Audio Visual Production course during What Up at West in his sophomore year, says that the access to advanced equipment they now have has improved their skills.

“I had done some filming before I took the course, but didn’t have access to great equipment, so I didn’t know what I was doing,” McDonald said. “Later, I signed up for the course and I’ve loved it ever since.”

Senior Eugenio Gonzalez Lazo’s story is similar to McDonald’s, and he cites the lessons he learned in the first year course for his continued passion for film.

“My sophomore year I spoke with Jack (McDonald), and we decided to sign up for the course,” Gonzalez Lazo said. “We took the class in order to learn how to shoot a movie, and after the first year class I realized that film is a career that I would actually want to pursue.”

Gonzalez Lazo and McDonald are taking the skills they are currently learning in the course and are producing several of their own films outside of school. Both seniors have purchased some of their own equipment in order to avoid renting school cameras.

“Eugenio and I have begun producing three films that we’re going to enter in festivals throughout the summer and into next year,” McDonald said. “There’s always several film festivals in this area for high school students to enter their work into.”

Each of the three films has a distinct storyline and are the product of hours of research and planning. Senior Yousof Popal is even writing an original score for one of the films, a testament to McDonald and Gonzalez Lazo’s dedication to originality.

“One of the films we’re writing is a Western that combines aspects of other film genres as well,” McDonald said. “It’s something that’s stepping me out of my comfort zone because I’ve never filmed anything that was set in a different time period.”

The second film McDonald and Gonzalez Lazo are producing is a pseudo superhero film with a realistic, Marvel-esque superhero who has an important lineage. The final film is about a man who comes to a crossroads in his life and must decide if success is worth it. McDonald and Gonzalez Lazo are about halfway done with the pre-production phase of all three films, and plan on filming soon.

“The films, especially the Western, are projects that require research and costume design,” McDonald said. “I’ve had to meet with people and location scout desert-like places.”

While most of the students who take the class are not producing independent films of their own, the course does require that students take time out of school to film and edit. However, the four seniors believe that the extra time allows them to produce a higher quality product and advance their skills.

“While the Audio Visual class is definitely time consuming, it never feels like work if you really enjoy it,” Gonzalez Lazo said. “Last semester we worked on three to four projects and it was more exciting than stressful.”

Some of the excitement for Audio Visual students comes in the form of filming live events. Senior Jack Doering, a self-proclaimed film junkie who loves Edgar Wright classics such as Hot Fuzz and Baby Driver, enjoys filming these events for the live experience he receives.

“We record the school plays, musicals, orchestra concerts, pep rallies and we even filmed a video for Tom Muehlenbeck Center’s Halloween event,” Doering said. “Sometimes we get paid depending on how well funded the department is, but we mostly do it for experience. We don’t get to film live events very often so whenever we do it’s great to practice.”

Even though the four seniors enjoy filming events as well as the process that goes into creating a new narrative, film is simply a creative hobby for each of them at this point in their lives.

“I don’t think that any of us are planning on going into film,” Fletcher said. “It’s just a thing we’re doing for fun right now as a hobby.”

McDonald and Gonzalez Lazo reiterated Fletcher’s point, stating that if a film career happened to work out, it would be exciting. However, both seniors primarily plan on studying computer science or engineering. While none of the seniors will be signing up for film courses in college come fall, they will carry their love for film with them in whatever they pursue.                            

“If you’re at all interested in film and you have a passion for wanting to tell stories you should take the class,” McDonald said. “This course gives you great skills to put on your resume and it also allows you to have creative freedom and the medium to do so.”  

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