LACMA was awarded a grant and launched Veterans Make Movies, a three year initiative giving classes and workshops to veterans. We are its pilot group.

Sunday was our introduction to the fellowship which runs for eight consecutive weeks. The format is pretty loose. Each of us will be creating short films with a runtime of three minutes—which, is pretty cool. I wasn’t sure if we were to develop and pitch ideas wherein a few will be selected, and then we would have to crew up and film the piece, but this isn’t the case.

There are a wide variety of filmmakers in the group with various experience—some more than others. Nonetheless, everyone seems to have had worked on a production in one capacity or another.

Since this is a pilot program at the moment, I can see that we are still ironing out the kinks along the way which did leave me with some questions in mind:

  • Is there a budget? And if so, do we receive one for our project?
  • What resources do we have available?
    • Appears to be limited
      • I know we have some Canon T5i cameras with a kit lens which…
    • Do we have access to LACMA’s archives? LAPL’s archives?
      • Is there a partnership with AMPAS or WGA and their archives?
  • Things that could be beneficial for us:
    • Open Space Technology
      • Could be beneficial as part of the class structure
        • Fleshing out (new) ideas as to what is important to the fellows
          • Why are we here and what do we hope to get out of our coursework?
      • Helps us to define the program’s scope and direction
      • Uses each of our own experience and expertise to share and impart knowledge with our peers while creating community engagement within our program
  • Do we have a specific prompt?
    • The program is focused on “highlighting the veteran experience,” but what does that mean? It is a broad net to cast.

Moving forward, we watched the short film by Rachna Suri entitled, Our Lad and dissected the film and discussed what was the filmmaker’s perspective, motive, intention along with what worked and what didn’t work in the film.

We finished the day with a challenge exercise. Being broken off into groups, we were tasked with telling a story drawing from our experience—using three still frames. This was a great way to break the ice with our peers while allowing us to create something in a collaborative spirit. At the end we put our images to the test to see if our audience could discern our message and intent.

Some key points I walked away with from the day:

  • A good filmmaker can tell a compelling story with the equipment and resources at hand.
  • Let us not be distracted and defined by glitzy and glamorous toys, but by our imagination and skillsets that we naturally possess.
  • Basic building blocks—things we should already know, but still good to revisit
    • A film should have: The Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis