(This is for the Slice of Life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write each Tuesday — and all through March — about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)
Last night, my wife and I joined about a dozen other folks in a small film editing space to view an early draft of a documentary film being made by a neighbor and an artistic partner (see their Kickstarter campaign that got them off the ground). Almost a year ago, we went to the same space, and watched a very early promotional trailer. Our friend is a professional filmmaker who has won awards for her work, so it is no surprise that the movie — which is about arming teachers in schools with guns — is a captivating piece of work.
The topic of the film remains rather jarring. Arming teachers with guns? It’s happening, and may spread now that Trump and the NRA are in power, and the movie — now tentatively entitled G is for Gun — focuses on some communities in Ohio. It’s powerful, in that teachers from both side come from the same desire: to find a way to protect their students. How to do that is the dividing line in the narrative, of course. Actually, one of the more disturbing and absurd elements of their research is that schools don’t have to tell parents if teachers are being armed with guns in schools. That information can be kept from the public, and even from the police (who don’t like the idea of arming teachers, by the way, for fear of something going terribly wrong if they arrive at a school for an emergency).
After we watched the 40 minute film, the discussion took place, and it was pretty interesting to be in the midst of a sort of “writers’ circle” as we critiqued and complimented the aspects of filmmaking, talking about point of view, balance, filming techniques, voice, lighting, flow of story, and more. I watched my friend and her partner take in the comment, making notes, asking follow-up questions, pursuing a line of inquiry. They would glance at each other when some comment from us, the audience, hit a nerve, or shake their heads in tandem when we raised a point they had clearly already been raising, or discussing, during the editing process.
The event reminded me of the kinds of discussions about writing we nurture in our classrooms, and how — if you are lucky as an adult — you might find yourselves in the midst of rich conversations about art and writing, and filmmaking, too.
Peace (on film),
Such an interesting take on a feedback circle with an interesting topic as well!
I love the connections you so often make between your life outside school and your life at school. I know that you are making these strong connections for your students too. Keep sharing!
It is so hard to be that open to critique when you are attached to your work but it does make it better to get that feedback. I am sad and scared on a daily basis as the world I’ve always known spins away.
It’s so important that we teach students these type of critical thinking skills and to be able to debate and discuss a topic with respect and an open mind, hearing all sides and coming to an informed opinion.
You are lucky to have this kind of experience. It speaks to the need for teachers to not just write but have writing groups to give comments to and comment on.
The movie… G is for Guns… yikes.
Kevin, your experience in a filmmaking critical friends group sound amazing. What a topic. I would have loved to be a listening ear.
There’s nothing better than having a group of adults you can have critical conversations with. That’s the stuff I live for!
Here’s to the arts and the critical conversations they can inspire, both in process and once published. Thanks for this behind-the-scenes glimpse, Kevin.
I am so taken with the topic of your piece – G is for Guns – that I missed the rest! I want to have a discussion on this film without even seeing it. What a talkworthy topic and sadly could be a reality soon. Thank you for sharing this – what an amazing experience. We have been using video with elementary students to study craft and it works really well. Lots of opportunities.