[Frameworks] Experimental Media for Middle and High School Students

David Tetzlaff djtet53 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 23 07:38:00 CDT 2010

Urban kids will likely be familiar with sampling and remix culture. They
might be interested to know this extended back way before hip-hop and can be
used to different ends, You could show them 'Cosmic Ray' if you can find a
copy (I might be able to help off list), a Cornell short (c.f Jack's Dream)
and have them do a found footage piece but prohibiting them from using pop
music on the sound track to keep them away from simulating. You'd want to
provide them with a fixed set of found samples in the mode of 'Stockstock,'
the idea being everyone would get different results from the same sources.

Another project might be to show the middle part of 'Critical Mass' (kids
might not have the attention span for the whole thing), then have them shoot
some kind of long take, and throw it into Barbara Lattanzi's HF Critical
Mass software and play with the automatic processes of turning it into a
structural film.

Experimental film can be very 'adult' and 'heavy', and at risk kids probably
don't need more heavy than they have. (A different kind of heavy that might
work is Maclaine's The End, a very serious film that also generates a lot of
laughter.) It's also tough to show anything with sexual/erotic content to
kids without them just giggling and wiggling and you getting into trouble.
That doesn't leave a lot. You also want to show them examples of things they
could reasonably take off from, which leaves a lot of graphic/animation
stuff out (no Belson, Whitney, Bartlett...)

Maybe Bridges Go Round, and selected bits of City Symphony films, and have
them try to do a poetic take on their neighborhood??

If you have a lot of minority kids, it would be nice to show them examples
from minority makers, though again finding copies may be a challenge...
Kevin Everson, Roberts Banks, Alex Rivera, Ella Troyano. All probably
difficult to get on video.

One issue is how much male/macho/homophobic attitude the group displays. You
probably don't want to get too confrontational with their beliefs. But if
they can handle it, you could show Sadie Benning's Rubyfruit program, and/or
'Chronic.' And for something closer to home 'AKA Don Bonus,' and have them
do a subjective diary project.

I might also consider screening 'Jack Smith and The Destruction of
Atlantis', which might be able to inspire something having to do with
resiliance in the face of extreme outsider-ness.

It's not that 'experimental', but you could show the moc-doc C.S.A. and have
them play with cultural artifacts from alternate histories.

Just thinking off the top of my head FWIW...
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