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Dwight School Talks Film
By Jasmine Bager


In an Upper West Side classroom overlooking Manhattan’s Central Park, eight Dwight School senior students attentively listened as guest filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer spoke about her successes and challenges as a female in the male-dominated film industry. The students—coincidentally all female—all chose to enroll in Nick Lindner’s high school film studies class. This two-year course is a part of their International Baccalaureate (IB) degree, the only one of its kind in New York City.

Award-winning filmmaker, Lindner, is the IB film teacher. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in film studies and fiction writing. He also earned his master’s with distinction in film and television from the University of Glasgow in Scotland and currently works in film and TV production as a freelancer.

Both Lindner and Holmer told the students that they wished they had this kind of a course while in high school. Holmer told students that she was thrilled by the use of chemistry, mathematics and the creative arts while making films. She attended New York University (NYU) and from the very first day, she said that she knew what she wanted to do: film.

She stressed the importance of being consistent and diligent to make it in the field. “Wherever the camera is, you are,” she told the class. At 17—the same age as many of the students in attendance— she was paid to work on set of a film, and worked at a camera repair shop. She stressed that being highly organized with a deep understanding on how to budget time and how to cultivate contacts were all vital assets that helped her thrive. She worked on commercials, music videos and is now working on a feature film.

“This is an industry that is more or less dominated by men, but careers are fully tangible for women,” Lindner begins the class.

The film course is hugely focused on films centered on and around NYC, in a culturally sensitive platform. The students are expected to write papers, research, critically think and also produce a short film at the end of the course, all with rigorous standards, which is reflective of their long-term projects.

Holmer is part of a film project that received grants from the MacArthur Foundation and was the first to receive such funding as a first time feature documentary maker, for the film, “Charge.” Currently, she is collaborating with Lindner on a film abroad. They provide real-life anecdotes and give practical hands-on experience to the students, by expressing the non-glamorous aspects of film.

“Get the lowest paid position and work your way up, instead of just getting an internship,” Holmer suggested. She personally does not fit into a genre, she said, and works well with loose concepts, but with tight craftsmanship.

Holmer was just one of the many speakers who were invited to give informal lectures at the Dwight School’s inaugural 2013 Film and TV Industry Professionals Week. Other guest speakers included award-winning lighting designers, producers and freelance sound mixers.

“You guys are making the rules,” Holmes concluded.

Interview with two students from the film class at The Dwight School:

Name: Georgina Salter

Age: 17 years old

Nationality: British

Dream Job: A sound recorder working on major television shows

Jasmine Bager (JB): Why did you choose to enroll in this class?

Georgina Salter (GS): My love for film started many years ago and I can only thank my father for that. He is fanatic for old films, and for a number of years, has introduced me to the classics such as Citizen Kane, The Godfather trilogy, Blade Runner, and more. I had never been a prodigy in music, or art, but I was, for a time interested in drama. However, that ‘phase’ went away, and then the IB film course was offered to me during 11th grade. It was then that I had realized that my love for shooting photographs, and being the one behind the camera instead of in front of it, would come into play. Not only that, but I love to study films as well as produce them. It is one of the best decisions I have made in the past two years and every day, I find myself to be eager to walk into the classroom.

JB: What is the most valuable skill that you are currently learning from this course?

GS: I have learned a number of skills from this course, but perhaps the most valuable one that I will take with me in my future is that success requires time. I have picked up on this specific theme throughout film in the past two years when referring to the practical and theoretical aspect of film. Not only when producing a film does it take time to develop a concrete storyline, but getting the camera, lighting and sound takes just as long to produce something worthy. However, with the theoretical part of film, which is just as important as the practical aspect, it takes a certain amount of time, effort and knowledge to understand the meaning behind specific aspect of film, to have a successful and firm grasp. I am going to take this skill and knowledge with me as I continue to pursue my film knowledge.

JB: Do you plan on pursuing film or any area of filmmaking in your future? Why or why not?

GS: I do intend to pursue film as a future career, and I am excited about the knowledge I am going to further engulf in. I have an ever-growing fascination with film, the practical and theoretical side of it, and I am eager to take this enthusiasm and interest with me towards my future. I am eager to jump into the world of film, to show everyone what I have to offer, and I am always willing to try and learn something new. The film industry is a male-dominated business, but that doesn’t intimidate me in any way. In fact, it does the complete opposite, and my determination and motivation is to be one of the few successful females in film. My enthusiasm for film is ever-growing which, in my opinion isn’t going to fade away.

Name: Sophia Conger

Age: 17

Nationality: US

Dream Job: Filmmaker (Specifically: director/producer)

JB: Why did you choose to enroll in this class?

Sophia Conger (SC): By Ninth grade, I found myself making small music videos or short movies in my spare time. I loved editing them and creating short stories on my iMovie. I always enjoyed being in charge of the camera, directing my friends, or coming up with creative ideas to enhance the already entertaining aspect of film. In 10th grade, I incorporated both my love for film and theatre by making a 40-minute documentary on the school play, directed by our head of the theatre department, Terrence Christgau. The problems that arose from making the film were what challenged me to use a creative voice during my documentary and piece it together non-linearly. I grew attached to my film, and by the end of the year, I knew I wanted to take film class in eleventh grade. My love for movie making had grown significantly, and I felt that directing and filmmaking was the path I should be going towards.

JB: What is the most valuable skill that you are currently learning from this course?

SC: I think the most valuable skill I am learning from this course is to be able to work with the camera hands-on. I never cared much for cinematography because I always envisioned myself as a director—coaching and directing others in order to create my cinematic vision. However, through this class, I am learning all aspects of film: how to light the shot effectively, how to record sound (an aspect very essential to film), how to act in film, and how to edit. Without this class, I would not have known that it is essential, especially with the competitiveness of this business, to be the master of all trades.

JB: Do you plan on pursuing film or any area of filmmaking in your future? Why or why not?

SC: I definitely plan on pursuing filmmaking in my future. Mr. Lindner’s course has had such a positive effect on me that I am going to college specifically FOR film! He has inspired me so much that I took an internship last summer at the Havana Film Festival and spent three weeks participating in a screenwriting course at the School of Visual Arts. I think I “know” as much as any senior in high school can “know” that filmmaking is where I want to be. #

Established in 1872, New York City’s Dwight School is the flagship campus. Other Dwight locations include ones in London, Canada and Seoul.



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