While recent productions, such as “Avengers: Infinity War” and the most recent “How to Train Your Dragon” film, seem to appeal to the broadest audience, the importance of studying the deeper roots of film production remain increasingly significant to one Illinois State University professor.
ISU English Professor William McBride stresses that film goes beyond an intense storyline, an aspect that allows multimillion-dollar box office productions to become so popular.
“You consider words like ‘town’ and ‘gown,’” McBride said. “They are similar yet so different.”
McBride’s “Six Week Film School” at the Normal Theater does just that. The free class serves as an opportunity for the community to look at the “nuts and bolts” of production.
“The class is an appreciation of films, through camera, editing and stylized moments,” he continued.
McBride also compares this "popular" aspect of film and television when referencing the American adaptation of TV show “The Office.”
“My daughter was watching it and I couldn’t stand it,” he said. He clarified that he was not knocking the hit show, but there does not seem to be any "art," in his opinion, involved in the production, only quips and quirky humor.
McBride admitted that movies and shows that appeal to a broad audience know how to entertain, but he believes this takes away from hidden meaning that other directors work so hard to include.
“In my ISU film class this semester I asked my undergrads how many had seen Hitchcock’s 'PSYCHO,' it turned out only a few,” wrote McBride on the film school website. “However, they all knew both Bernard Herrmann’s knife-screeching music and the rapid cuts in the shower scene.”
This proves evident that film technique, while not fully studied and understood, sticks with the audience. This raises the question of why film directors take so much time to focus on these aspects.
Mentioning an example from the upcoming session of Stanley Kubrick’s “Lolita,” scheduled for Wednesday night, film elements hold a hidden meaning.
Editing of the film includes a scene that fades to black, which holds for an uncomfortable five seconds. So, why does the 1962 production include this? What is the hidden meaning?
“The audience has to make sense of that,” McBride said. “We will make discussion of those elements before and after each film is shown.”
McBride also said the film school serves as a way for the community to come together. The class is free to attend for anyone in the community interested in studying prominent figures and stylized elements in the film industry.
Senior arts technology major Robben Burdick said the class peaked his interest as a fan of cinema.
“It’s especially cool that this is free to attend,” Burdick said. “I’ve never taken a film studies class. I like to learn about things that interest me if I really want to learn. Getting to learn from a professor seems like it’s worth attending.”