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Filmmaking is a Complex Thing. I Watched Distruktur and Their Students


Over the two final weeks of the Summer Academy, a group of fifteen people is exploring the art of filmmaking. In a course run by Melissa Dullius and Gustavo Jahn, aka DISTRUKTUR, they will learn about both technical and conceptual ways of film creation, shooting scenes with a 16mm camera. The final outcome of this course will be presented in a form of a collective film, showing a rather abstract and visceral vision the 15 authors poured into one large bowl.


The screening today


When I came into their classroom at the beginning of the course, everybody was grasping their practice cameras and light meters, measuring every move and change and setting up the lenses continuously. One of them is always in charge of taking notes. Highly concentrated, even serious, they all got down to the business of learning the fundamentals as Melissa and Gustavo guide them did actively and patiently with the help of Viktoria, their co-teacher.


After one week, I joined DISTRUKTUR again, hoping to walk around while they shoot their film, but got a much better experience - a screening of the previously shot and processed material and a lesson in film rolling! In this relatively short time, I was seriously amazed by the 3-minute pieces the students have done, some of which could be cut out already, standing as videos in their own right. I must mention that this crew is responsible for every step in the making of their joint film, from the idea and screenwriting, over acting and costume design, to post-production.


As Melissa turned a wheel (there are hundreds of them and I don’t know their proper names), I learned that 10 meters of film equals roughly 1 minute of screening. She continued to explain how they are connecting films shot with two different cameras, and that this was their editing process. There is no professional editing table at the Fortress, so everything has to be done by hand, but this is also a planning challenge for the crew. “We need to mentally edit first,” and they have to, so they would make fewer cuts after. I ask do they know what the film will be like and get the answer that they “don’t know how long the film will be in the end by [they] do plan the shooting days. It’s a very complex thing, filmmaking,” she concluded, as I moved to the miniature class cinema.


After the screening, I joined a group of students in the dark room. Gustavo was explaining how to roll a film into a spiral, a process that must be done in the dark. It seemed touchy, but as he said - the speed depends on the person doing it. “At first, Melissa was rolling everything, I didn’t like this at all,” he told us, explaining how he would spend an hour helping someone learn the way in the dark, while some people who have a better sense of touch or are perhaps craftier with their hands get it immediately.


Leaving the filmmakers to their art, I went to my own task of wording the experience. Honestly, I don’t think a person can know everything about film by just popping into a class now and then, but if there are people who knew nothing about it in the beginning - they are now doing a very good job!


Cannot wait to see their film on Friday. What a last-day treat it will be!

An honest binge-watcher, aka Ana

An early practice
Studio shooting
Light? Focus? Check!
Circles and wheels and rolls
The treasure
Going out to film
Props and costumes
Recreating Courbet 
Gustavo explaining the film rolling process
Film developing
A frame from the film
Curious yet?


22/08/17 19:00 Summer Academy 2017

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