The Montclair Film Festival (MFF) and The Film Institute at Montclair State are once again collaborating to present the sixth annual “Behind the Screen” (BTS) program on Sunday, Jan. 29. BTS is a series of master class workshops where students have the opportunity to learn from film and television professionals about the art of filmmaking.
Susan Skoog, a faculty member at Montclair State’s film program and one of the organizers of BTS said that this year will be different from last year. Instead of just hearing about filmmakers working on films and TV shows, the sessions will be much more hands-on.
One workshop that is expected to be popular among students this year is “Writing for Late Night Comedy with Glen Eichler.” Glen Eichler was a writer for “The Colbert Report” for ten years before switching over to “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” He will be talking about the skills and attitude one needs to become a successful late night writer. Skoog thinks the workshop to be especially exciting for students.
“We have never offered that type of workshop before so we hope a lot of students will come out for that,” said Skoog.
A goal for this year is to mix current with new and interesting technologies. For example, one of the workshops is called “Virtual Reality 101: The Frame is Dead.” The virtual reality filmmakers will discuss how virtual reality works, and give advice on how to get started for students who are interested.
Outside in the hallway, the VR filmmakers will have a kind of virtual reality garden, so that after the presentations, students can come in, put on a head-set and look at some VR films. This is part of the hands-on approach that Skoog would like to see more of.
Another workshop involving the mix of new and old technologies will be the “Interactive Storytelling with Interlude” presented by EKO Studios, a consumer platform that enables the viewer to shape the story as it unfolds. The VP creative at EKO will be giving a presentation to illustrate how to use interactive storytelling.
With interactive storytelling, the viewer can make films where he or she will follow actors in some kind of dramatic situation and pick the outcome.
“It is essentially like gaming, but live action,” said Skoog.
The interactive storytelling filmmakers will also be at a booth in the hallway with iPads where students get a feel of how interactive storytelling works.
Skoog launched BTS with MFF six years ago while she was on the education committee as the Montclair State representative. During her travels to festivals, she meets many company representatives who she thinks would be interesting additions to BTS and invites them to hold workshops and master classes.
After being asked the purpose of presenting BTS, Skoog replied that one learns the craft of filmmaking by doing. A way to learn is to hear from people who are actually in the film industry. It is important for Skoog that students don’t just hear about career possibilities, but also receive a behind-the-screen look at what it takes to get a TV show on the air or what it takes to be a comedy writer.
“There is a craft to creating a joke, and you need bring in people who can show how to do that,” explained Skoog.
BTS will take place in University Hall in Room 1070. The program is part of the Colloquium Series and is free to the public. Interested people can register online at the university website.