Guest Article: Cinematography DeCal @ Cal: First Meeting

The Cinematography DeCal at UC BerkeleyI met Tobias through his first film here in Berkeley called “All I Want Is Silence“.  I was his main actor portraying the role of a modern interpretation of Charlie Chaplin. That said, I was not certain I could get into the Cinematography DeCal since I had very little experience working with cameras to start off with.

Before I go into detail about what happened at the first meeting of the DeCal, let me first explain what DeCals are:

DeCal stands for Democratic Education at Cal, a system that allows students to teach classes to other students on topics that they want to teach, which don’t necessarily have to be academic, and are not offered by the University. Here is the link to the DeCal website for more information: http://www.decal.org/

Cinematography DeCal First Meeting @ Ishi Court

Cinematography DeCal First Meeting @ Ishi Court

I felt the need to take this course due to the desire to learn more hands-on skills with the camera as well as other topics that create a composition, and be able to really get technical on set, since I aspire to be a director. Among the students gathered there, many also share similar ambitions and goals and perhaps were all drawn there due to the lack of a production related major, since the Film Studies major offered here at Cal is purely theory and history based. Part of the goals for this Decal  is to create a professional filmmaking culture here among the students in Berkeley – and possibly even influence the film department to provide more resources towards film students who wish to make film instead of just sit and watch film.

Ishi Court, the Secret Meeting Place

Ishi Court, the Secret Meeting Place

Over 80 or so students showed up to Ishi Court. It was one of the larger DeCals on campus, similar in size to maybe Stem Cell Research DeCal or Web Development Decal in so much as the number of students applying to enroll. The decision as to who gets a spot on the roster (only about 30-40 seats) is Toby’s.  We were told to share a self-introduction paper of 200-400 words with which to express the main thing that Tobias was looking for: Motivation.

It is fun to note that due to the large turn out, we were unable to fit into a regular classroom so the first meeting had to be held in Ishi Court for this reason. These slides were presented on large hand-drawn poster papers that were clipped to tree branches 🙂
Would a class full of students who are hopefully successful in accomplishing the planned learning outcomes be able to change the filmmaking landscape @ Cal? We shall see.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Why This Class?

Why This Class?

 

Life of a Low Budget DP

Life of a Low Budget DP

Expectations

Expectations

After these two slides were presented I think there was a general hush over the students. We were struck by the examples given “there will always be people who drop out in the middle, because life gets in the way, or they change their careers because their reasons for doing this weren’t strong enough”.

I shared my story of how I ran away from home and went to LA to take acting classes and audition for roles, after withdrawing from UC Berkeley – and how I later came back to study film. The key to my motivation is not in “how bad I want it” but that I’m really committed, embodied by referring to how much I’ve been through and how much I’m still willing to sacrifice to keep going as a filmmaker. I also showed him a rough cut of what I wrote and directed in the summer.

How Zany

How Zany

Now that I’m in the course, I look forward to working with other fellow like minded film making students, learning the tools of the craft, and building up an impressive reel to help jump start my career.

 

 

How Zany (Haoyang Zhang) is a film student at UC Berkeley and an aspiring filmmaker. You can subscribe to his Youtube Channel or find him on Facebook.