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Friday, March 20, 2015

FEE Brings Liberty to Film

Storytelling through film is a powerful tool for sharing ideas

In partnership with the Moving Picture Institute, FEE hosted 24 students interested in both liberty and film for a unique seminar that armed them with lessons on storytelling, film project execution, and how to break into the filmmaking world.

T.K. Coleman of Praxis kicked off the seminar with an inspirational speech about the importance of stories when convincing others of moral truths. He stressed that while facts may be understood, a story lives in the heart forever. One of his main points was that people tend to ignore truth when spoken directly but listen and care if it is communicated through a story.

While T.K. spoke on the story-telling aspect of a film, MPI fellow Nick Tucker focused on the story itself. “Why should I care?” was the question he asked repeatedly to get the students thinking about the personal motives for the message they want to convey. Another MPI fellow Chandler Tuttle tackled how to make a story interesting in a limited amount of time. He covered the arc – the pattern of high and low points – which every successful story follows and walked the students through multiple examples using classic stories.

The rest of the day focused on the project presentations where students were able to compete for a $5,000 grant from MPI. While there were several excellent pitches, including stories about dying with dignity and eminent domain, the winning pitch came from a participant from Ukraine who proposed an animated short film about a puppet who cuts his strings to pursue freedom.

The highlight of the seminar was a trip to a screening room to watch the trailer of Nick Tucker’s newest short, Chandler Tuttle’s 2081, and a new short film from another MPI fellow Cyrus Saidi. Each film ended with a question and answer session with the creator, allowing students to ask about inspiration, budget, casting, and any other aspect of filmmaking.

The final day of the program began with vibrant MPI program officer Naomi Brockwell who spoke about how to “make it” in the filmmaking business where unions and other organizations inflate the costs of hiring good talent. Brockwell encouraged students to “create, create, create” and to “not make good the enemy of perfect.”

After being encouraged to create, T.K. reminded participants about the important signal of money in a marketplace of art since spending your dollars allows you to express what you value as beautiful. He also encouraged participants to share their ideas before being fully confident with his advice, “When you commit to sharing yourself with the world even when you’re ugly, it builds a tremendous amount of character and humility.”

The final talk of the seminar came from Andrew Heaton, a liberty-oriented comedian and star of Econ Pop, who spoke to students via Skype. In addition to talking about the creation of Econ Pop, Heaton’s main message was, “Be you!” He encouraged students to pursue their passions whether in comedy, music, or film and to go after opportunities that make you say, “Hell yes!”

In between the lectures, there were several stimulating group discussions both planned and not. Students were eager to gain invaluable advice from the speakers such as, “You don’t need anyone’s permission to go do risky things in your life.” Participants also forged bonds with each other over meals, during a bowling social, and during free time. At the conclusion of the seminar, several students expressed an interest in changing their career to film, and we can look forward to the impact they will make the in the future.

  • Zena Aziz is the Spring Programs Associate at FEE and a graduate of Ohio State University.