Advanced TV and Film Students Apply Skills in 3X3 Production (Part 1)

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Sheridan’s Advanced Television and Film (ATVF) program teaches advanced film and television skills to students who have either academic or industry backgrounds, but wish to develop the practical and competitive skills they need to successfully integrate into the film, television or interactive industries. Many ATVF students enter the program somewhat “afraid and suspicious of technology,” program coordinator Jean Desormeaux suggests, but after a year of intense master classes and production, they graduate from Sheridan comfortable with technology and industry workflow processes.

The ATVF program offers students specialties in producing, directing, screenwriting, editing, audio production and post-production, camera and lighting, and digital design. This post-graduate certificate program begins with an intensive seven-week session of master classes in the above disciplines in which students can specialize. Then in the next seven weeks, students apply their learning in a real life short film production methodology named 3X3 (i.e. interpretative film projects that are three minutes long, comprising of three actors, selected by producer-director teams from a jury determined selection of three or four scripts).

In this year’s 3X3 project, ATVF has chosen four screenplays, all written by either current Sheridan screenwriting students or Sheridan alumni. Screenplay selection resulted in one script being shot four times, another screenplay being shot twice, and two other screenplays being shot once. The setting for the four films this year is an auto mechanic’s garage. For the third year, Toronto’s Cinespace Studios has donated studio space to the ATVF students to design and construct a set and shoot their films. The entire studio process lasts five weeks. The Cinespace studio donation is extraordinarily generous to Sheridan and the program.

The 3X3 method leads ATVF students through a real-world film production from start to finish. Using “Sheridan dollars,” the producer develops a budget and schedule just as they would for a professional film. The director leads production meetings to define each “beat,” or dramatic segment of the film, and the team members each contribute their new skills to decide what they want to accomplish with characters, blocking, cinematography, sound, light, and every detail of the film. Once teams are clear on what they want to accomplish with their films, they book time downtown at Casting Central to hold auditions for ACTRA members to be cast.

Concurrently, the set is designed and built at Cinespace by the Production Design master class. Once the studio set is complete, there is a week of preparation, safety, pre-lighting, and staging exercises. Then the production process begins, with each team filming one complete project per day. This year, ATVF will produce eight 3X3 films. A detailed three-day picture editing process at Sheridan begins immediately after the production is completed at the studio.

Watch this space for an update after I visit the Cinespace set to view shooting next week.

To learn more about Sheridan’s Advanced Film and Television program, click here.

Sheridan is offering a new Bachelor of Film and Television starting fall 2014. Read more about that program here.

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