Learn filmmaking with CNN

Overseas-education | Crystal Wu 7 Apr 2021

In this highly digitalized age when we spend hours scrolling through social media feeds, it is evident that visuals are key.

In line with this, CNN recently launched its CNN Film School - a digital initiative about filmmaking and storytelling.

The initiative is supported by automotive brand Genesis under an advertising and sponsorship partnership.

"Through our partnership, we believe that our shared values and beliefs toward the young generation, especially in the film industry and art, will be effectively delivered," said Ina Lee, vice president of the Genesis Global Customer Experience Group.

"We hope our support of the film school videos, fellowship student program and branded content films will lead young filmmakers to have inspiration in their future work."

The CNN Film School will run through all of 2021 in two sections - an online platform accessible to the general public, as well as a fellowship program in which four students from three universities will receive a US$15,000 (HK$117,000) grant to develop a micro-documentary with professional mentorship and oversight from CNN.

"Through this series, we hope to show aspiring filmmakers and storytellers not only how to create content, but also the impact they can make by telling remarkable visual stories," said Jane Sit, CNN senior producer, who is leading the video series on the online platform.

"We hope that CNN Film School can be an educational tool for the next generation of storytellers across the globe."

The online platform will host videos and written articles that feature people from the film and television industry "to highlight all the important aspects of visual storytelling, as well as their passion for the craft."

At the moment, two out of 12 chapters of the platform's video section, called a guide to filmmaking, are available. Each of them have intriguing titles, such as What we can learn from the oldest story ever told and Why we can't get enough of Sherlock Holmes.

"Our first digital video for CNN Film School is all about our drive to tell stories," said Sit. It features Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald and his recent release Life in a Day 2020, where he crowdsourced about 15,000 hours of video footage worldwide.

The second chapter, about Sherlock Holmes, explores why he is the most portrayed literary human in TV and film as well as the evolution of his portrayal on-screen.

"Expect to learn a thing or two about video storytelling from some very passionate storytellers - many whom you'll recognize - and be inspired to create your own visual stories," said Sit.

However, she did give a hint or two on how to successfully tell a story, even though she believes that there is no single formula behind it.

"For example, having a great character is crucial - a character with different layers that the audience can identify with," she said. "Conflict is also important because that's what humans are drawn to and can understand."

Other factors that make good storytelling include an interesting narrative, touching emotions, as well as visual, audio elements and good editing, said Sit.

The pandemic brought on many changes to the world, and it is no surprise that it has also affected filmmaking and visual storytelling.

"Everyone has a story and I think technology has definitely made an impact on how we tell those stories."

Sit's CNN feature program Inventing Tomorrow was one of the first that touches on the topic of remote working, with the correspondent in Hong Kong speaking to guests from all over the globe.

"At the time, it was really new to us but gave us more room to be creative with the diverse voices, shots, editing, graphics, etc. You can see that plays into the way we've put together CNN Film School as well," she said.

"We are really excited to share these stories with the world and hopefully inspire people out there to create content."

The CNN Film School digital hub can be found on cnn.com/cnnfilmschool


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