Family Gravity Media, a division of Families For Christ Ministries, Inc. has blessed us with the opportunity to review a year’s subscription to Online Christian Filmmakers Academy, which is exactly what it sounds like! Students learn the basics of the film industry, and are held to a standard of making films that honor Christ.
Online Film School
I was super excited to give the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy a shot in our home! I have a very resistant 8th grade student that has been asking me for his own YouTube channel for several months now, and I hoped to use this as a language arts opportunity for him. I knew his older brother (12th grade) and younger brother (6th grade) would probably also be interested, but my best intentions were for this out-of-the-box learner of mine to get in some real world experience that he could easily count on his transcript.
We got all of that, but not in the way that I expected. The way the Film School works is that there are 5 modules. Each module has several video lessons; I hadn’t realized that, thinking each module would be a single video, so we got a slower start than I’d realized. The number of lessons in a module varies widely; the first module has only 6 videos, but the second one has 15. The videos vary in length from just a few minutes, as few as 2 or 3, to close to a half hour. It really just depends, but the video title page does show you how long the video is so you don’t have to guess or start it to get that information.
We had a hard time getting started, honestly, because some of those first lessons and modules are just a little dry. There’s not a lot to do really – just information to learn and take in, and much of it will be really useful “some day.” It’s great to know, but for our intentions of trying to start a YouTube channel, we aren’t going to need to learn about the types of lights out on the market. That said – learning about the lights and the different ways he uses the lights to create light in the scene will be useful to us, and even to me as a blogging mom with poor photography!
- Module 1 – The Camera
- The first module is all about cameras. My student said he wished he could try out what they were talking about, but we don’t own a DSLR camera. The videos gave us some great info and will help us pick out what we want when we can think about doing that financially.
- Module 2 -Cinematography
- The second module is about the rest of the specific equipment film makers need and use. This one has lots of vocabulary to learn, but Zack is fun to watch.
- Module 3- Sound
- The third module is on sound, and has great info on quality and ways to do effects.
- Module 4 – Pre-Production
- Module four has been our favorite; it’s all about writing the script and learning to write dialog.
- Module 5 – Production
- The final module is about the actual making and filming of the movie.
We had a slow start because I’d misunderstood how the film school worked and didn’t instruct my student properly. Once I understood how it worked, I had him try to go through the first module one video at a time. Honestly? I wish I’d realized sooner what we were doing, and I’d suggest not even necessarily trying to do these in order. I think it will be much more fun for a student to go through and do a video lesson or two from the first module, then move to the second module and do a couple, then the third module and do a lesson or two. Do the lessons within each module in order, but for us, getting to the “good stuff” faster kept my student’s interest better.
The other thing I’d like to mention is that the Online Christian Filmmakers Academy is set up really well for the student who wants to go in to the filmmaking field, and is highly motivated and interested in the topic. If your student is normally delight-directed and thrives on finding ways to use information presented, then you’ll have no trouble working your way through this course!
For my reluctant student, though, at his age and current motivational level, we are really needing more of a guide. While a few of thelessons have downloadable sheets with helpful information or explanations, I’d hoped to see more of a step-by-step activity guide to help my student put the information into practice. While Zack repeatedly emphasizes the importance of doing exactly that, no assignments are given nor are any activity ideas for “practice” offered. To be quite honest, if we’d paid full price for this course, I’d be a little frustrated at having to come up with the actual course work all on my own.
For my family, I’ll need to spend some time watching each video and determining the best activities to help my students practice the information. For me, it’s worth it. My reluctant student really is interested, but he needs my help finding how he can use the information instead of just listening to the “talking head.” He’s enjoying the course – don’t get me wrong! Zack obviously knows his material, and the videos are unscripted information shared between friends. My kid loved the information on a C-47; don’t call it a clothespin!
It’s just going to end up being much more teacher intensive than I had at all anticipated. I’ll be using this as a relationship builder with my son, and when we get to the appropriate activities in the Pre-Production module, we’ll be counting this as language arts! (And that’s another reason I recommend doing some from each module, so that you can work on the story and the script while learning about the camera and the lights, etc. It’s about getting to the fun stuff!)
I’m so thankful that this is an option out there in the homeschooling world! I absolutely think that doing this course – taking the video information and making a practice activity for each, as appropriate – would definitely qualify as a high school credit. Personally, I’ll be counting it towards at least a partial language arts course. It would definitely count as an elective credit; you might even consider it a drama or theater arts course. If you were smart about it, you might could figure out how to count it as an out-of-the-box science course…? (That might be wishful thinking on my part! But in seriousness, the lights and sound portions could spark some serious science fair fodder!)
You can connect with Family Gravity Media on Facebook. Family Gravity Media is also giving you a $100 off coupon to share with you! This coupon code will give $100 off the regular price of $299. Please note that the coupon code is only valid through November 30th, 2016. The code is: FALLCREW16
Don’t forget to check out the other Crew reviews! (Same Crew, new graphics!)