Highlighting Student Films 

Photo of Shorecrest Film, Graphic Design, and Photography teacher Allison Roberts

By: Cían McCarthy

Allison Roberts is one of the newest teachers to join the Shorecrest faculty. She teaches Graphic Design and Photography. The Chronicle interviewed Roberts about her background as an artist and teacher. “I describe myself as a teaching artist—an artist who teaches. I work with lens-based media: photography, the moving image (not necessarily film making), and projections as well. Working with the moving image got me into teaching it. So I’m coming from a photography/art background as opposed to a playwriting or film making [one].”

Roberts’ father and grandfathers were all photographers. She recounts sitting through slideshows of the pictures her grandfather had taken on his travels. “Seeing pictures of your grandmother on a camel in front of the pyramids kind of makes you feel like anything is possible,” she said.

Her father is a landscape photographer, something that he had more time for after he retired from his job as a cardiologist. But the two are very different. Where he takes a crisp picture of scenery, she’ll take a weird, artsy angle to a photograph; it’s what flows from her creative expression. “[Lens-based media] is the art form that seems authentic to me. It’s the way that I can express myself and communicate the most authentically,” Roberts said.

Roberts’s curriculum educates students on the different tools one can use in lens-based media to express oneself. She focuses on “a rebuilding and reenvisioning of how the film-making class is being presented. We’re working on a lot of the same things [as before]: camera angles, editing, post-production. But I’m also pushing them to explore the possibilities of what is out there.”

“I want students to think of the potential of what they can do. You’re surrounded by moving images all the time, but you’re not necessarily looking at them from the perspective of expressive potential, how you can really communicate something.”

This year, students in Roberts’s filmmaking class have been working on a number of projects to add to their portfolios. They each focus on a different technique of moving images.

One project the students worked on was the Faceless Self-Portrait project, where students had to shoot video footage to edit together a little biographical piece, a part of their day, in order to show themselves through their point of view.

Another was the Still Image project. Students watched La Jetée by French multimedia artist Chris Marker; the whole film is made entirely of still images. Ms. Roberts said she intentionally tries to knock the students out of their comfort zones, and having to use still images to convey the story poses a clear challenge focused on communicating.

Another still project was the Two Channel project. Students use a combination of moving images side-by-side on a screen (two channels of video input essentially).

Currently, the students are working on a green screen project, but the next project on the agenda is yet to be defined—students will propose what they will do. They now have a list of techniques to draw from, and students have free will to use whatever skills they’ve learned—or even propose new ones—to put into a moving image project of their own creation.

If you want to learn more about Ms. Roberts or view some of her work, check out her website at https://www.allisonaroberts.com/.

Here are a few student-made videos from the class:

Lizzie Camp

Chai Collier

Eric Heston

Alexis Valance

Max Warburton

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