About a week ago, I made my first YouTube video, to help my students prep for their exams. It turned out to be a failure for that purpose; the kids liked the idea that I’d made a video, but hated viewing it the way I planned for it to be viewed. But it led me to thinking, and I wound up making a second video in short order, which was a narrated slideshow of my school’s annual schedule. You can see both videos at my YouTube channel, under the username ABWatt.
But today I realized that just as writing leads naturally to more writing, so film naturally leads to more film. Having created content that is publishable and viewable, I now wish to make more publishable and viewable films. My desire for more opportunities to be creative is not lessened. Rather, it is strengthened by having a new medium in which to work. I didn’t slow down on adding photos to my Flickr stream until after I’d reached almost a thousand photos.
Once I had two films under my belt, neither very successful, I began developing plans for my third and fourth. Will they be any good? I think they’ll be better than the first two. It didn’t take me very long to realize I needed a storyboard (for which I use a bunch of blank index cards, actually), and a script. Two movies was enough to convince me that I needed to work on my visual storytelling just as much as my writing. I found a contest that I wanted to enter where I could show my movie, and maybe make a difference. In this way, we gradually get better at the things we want to do.
Translating this to students is always considerably more complex, and more difficult. I think this is one of the things that school does poorly, and could do better. But I’m certain that next year I have to concentrate more on teaching storytelling as an artform, and relate the role of history as being a kind of storytelling that includes a semi-factual (at the least) kernel. It’ll be worth exploring this over the summer, and figuring out how to teach this so students learn it rapidly in the new year.