In the Online High School Filmmakers Workshop, students learn the fundamentals of storytelling through film. They collaborate online to create short film projects.
Ifeanyi Odita, a junior from Conshohocken, PA, was part of the summer 2020 program. In our interview, she describes her experience in the program, the benefits and challenges of learning online, and how the program has influenced her as an artist and filmmaker.
What drew you to apply to the Online High School Filmmakers Workshop?
I have always loved film ever since I was young and wrote and directed my first movie. Since then, I have been consuming films whenever I can and I have also been constantly writing and coming up with ideas for short films. I applied to Tisch because I felt a little lost. Film can be daunting and I wanted to know the basics, and also I really wanted to spend my summer around like-minded people who truly cared about films.
Talk about collaborating with your classmates to create film projects.
Collaborating is fun and it’s also really helpful for the creative process. You all have different ideas and can build off each other. Collaboration forces you to see different possibilities for your films, your shots, even the feeling you want to get across. If you’re a bit stuck in one type of film or one specific process of thought, collaborating will really help you open your mind to new possibilities.
"I learned that film is really about intention, and story and less about if you get the most amazing or perfect shot. You could plan out every single shot and get all of them wrong but if you still manage to portray the story and the character it’ll be a great film."
Please tell us about your film crew. Where was everyone located and how did you overcome any challenges with projects?
In my last film crew, people were in Miami, New York, and Texas. The challenge of different locations is not fun at all, but it is helpful in some ways. It limits the possibilities of your films and it’s something you really have to work around. I think the creativity that comes out of having four different types of shots really is beautiful and extremely thoughtful. It results in something new that could not be more accurate to the time.
Share a favorite moment from the workshop.
Probably when one of my crew members said my shot was beautiful and reminded him of the shots Wes Anderson takes. Wes Anderson is by far one of my favorite directors and that was such a compliment.
What did you learn in the workshop that you will find yourself using as you grow your academic and/or artistic career?
This is a bit nuanced, but I think I learned creativity and what's important in a film. My first week I asked if I was doing alright or if there was anything I should focus on, and Phillip [DeRise] just said as long as the story is good, and you can really see and understand the character, that's all that matters. I learned that film is really about intention, and story and less about if you get the most amazing or perfect shot. You could plan out every single shot and get all of them wrong but if you still manage to portray the story and the character it’ll be a great film.
Talk about the benefits of taking this course online.
The only true benefit of being online vs. in person is that you can make your own schedule for when you want to work on your project. There isn’t a rigid schedule already made for you, if you’re busy one day, you can take a break.
Do you have any advice for students interested in taking this workshop?
Do it! This workshop has taught me if you really love to do something you should just constantly be trying new things with it and testing it out, even if your results aren’t amazing. It’s a really great opportunity for you to learn new things, and if you do sign up you should milk it for all its worth. You get out of it as much as you put in.
Online high school programs are offered year-round to students in grades 9 through 12. The deadline to apply for the spring 2021 Online High School Filmmakers Workshop and the Online High School Screenwriters Workshop is January 15, 2021.
This post is part of an ongoing series highlighting alumni from the Online High School workshops. Read our conversation with Caterina Colzi and stay tuned for future interviews.