The Little Digital Video Book describes a curriculum for teaching video that is enormously powerful and simple. In an interesting turn of events, it got me invited to participate with a project called OUMU, which was connecting kids in China and California. One thing led to another and I found myself in Beijing in 2003 teaching an afternoon seminar in one class in each of four high schools around the city. These were ostensibly their "english" class, but few - not even the teachers really - spoke english that well. So I lectured mostly in pantomime and example. Pictures on the board. An occasional concept worked out until we all understood. Then, a few days later, eight students were chosen from each class and brought out to a special short session on editing I would give, and then immediately we sent them outside on assignment.
This is how it worked. We were in an office building in downtown Beijing. They divided into two groups of 4 from each school. We selected 4 themes based on the kinds of activity we noticed around the neighborhood. We wanted them to discover and spontaneously capture something, and know how to shoot it, get back to the lab after a few hours, and edit it quickly into a short film. That was the assignment. They would be presented publicly on the spot. The final cut had to be under a few minutes. They had a selection of free music online they were allowed to use if they so chose.
These are their final projects. Most are remarkable in some way. We couldn't select a "best" although these two have long stuck with me for their elegance (in one case) and "originality" (in the other). Check them out. To me, they are a tribute to the power in these concepts. They'll always remind me of Beijing.