UCLA Civic Engagement Class

I recently had the pleasure of delivering a Tabletop Moviemaking workshop at UCLA in a Civic Engagement course taught by Beth Goodhue.  We had just about two hours to go through the entire process from initial drafting to final screening.  I asked Dr. Goodhue what her thoughts were on the workshop and how it fit into the structure of the course.

I think the tabletop moviemaking workshop was great for my students for a number of reasons. This Civic Engagement course explores the theory and practice of public arts and humanities, and we cover the importance of K-12 arts education in promoting learning across the disciplines, engaging multiple intelligences, teaching social skills and teamwork, and just generally fostering creative and critical thinking and a love of learning. Tabletop moviemaking demonstrates all of those points and more—and by having my college students do the same workshop younger students would do instead of just listening to a lecture about the importance of such pedagogy, my students get to experience the benefits of project-based learning first-hand.

The workshop also intersects well with our class discussions about the importance of digital literacy. Mobile devices and other modern technology can make it so easy for people to become passive consumers of information. This is especially true for young people who have never known a world without the internet and (increasingly) smartphones. Tabletop moviemaking provides people with the tools to make new stories and new knowledge with mobile technology. They become active producers instead of passive consumers.

We spend a lot of time talking about how and why public arts and humanities projects in all media ask people to become producers of cultural artifacts and not just consumers—and I want my students to put that philosophy into practice during the 10-week quarter. The tabletop moviemaking workshop allows us to do that in just one class session. I think tabletop moviemaking could be integrated into a great many public arts programs serving youth, but I also think it could be integrated into a great many college courses—especially those in education, community arts practice, civic engagement, and digital literacy.  

-Beth Goodhue, Ph.D.

contact Beth: bgoodhue -at- college -dot- ucla -dot- edu 

I think this photo provides a wonderful overview of the entire Tabletop Moviemaking process at play.  I see four people working together on a story and they have begun adapting the scene by adding props and scenery elements.  One setting is clipped in and all the characters are laid out.  Sketched quickly in the notebook is a rough storyboard of how they plan to shoot their movie.  

In the foreground we can see a storyboard worksheet and all the narrative elements this group plans to use.  In the background on the board I wrote the 5 main verbs of Tabletop Moviemaking: write, build, shoot, edit and share.  I wrote down time markers next to each word to ensure the whole group was moving on to the next phase.  They were super fast, so time was not an issue.   

Art making with accessible materials helps to integrate Tabletop Moviemaking in a variety of contexts.  You don't need much to adapt a pre-built scene or start from scratch with a blank sheet of paper.  This group managed to pack in quite a bit of customization during the building phase.  They also added a surprising number of sound effects and music tracks with a simple and elegant solution. 

First, they left the room to find a quiet place to record, in this case the hallway was just fine.  Second, they used the voice over tool built into iMovie on the iPad and then found all the sounds they wanted from an iPhone. Third, they would hit record on the iPad and play on the iPhone.  Voila! Sound effects in 3 easy steps.

One of the best parts about the process is viewing your hard work and hearing your voice.  Immediately watching your clips does two important things: one, you can re-shoot and fix any mistakes. Two, you'll probably smile while watching your movie.

Finally one of the students who participated in the workshop shared her thoughts on the experience.

The power of spokenword was made very apparent in the table-top filmmaking session we participated in class this past week.  Each group had the same props, same filming equipment, and same timeframe, but each group created 4 very diverse mini-films.  Our voices were a key aspect.  We created character through our tone, volume, pace of speaking, and dialogue.  We brainstormed about our characters, gave each character a background story and an identity, and then formulated a sequence with a problem and a solution.

-Jenna Chilingerian

Student Movies

After all the hard work we were able to screen the movies from the groups

A Day in the Life

The Art Museum

Mystic Family Life

The Monster Mash