EFS Spotlight - Q&A
Q&A – Dr. André Sirois
May 1st, 2016
From May 18 through 22, local filmmakers and musicians will collaborate together during the 2016 EFS 72 Hour Music Video Competition. EFS blogger Sidney Moore spoke with University of Oregon Cinema Studies instructor and EFS Board Member, Dr. André Sirois – aka “DJ Foodstamp” – about collaboration between artists in Eugene and the value of learning through hands-on production work.
EFS: What is the value of learning production in conjunction with theory?
Dr. André Sirois: There has to be a balance between practice and analysis in any curriculum. With practice, you gain both experience and practical skills that you need to make films. But understanding the theory and history of filmmaking helps you have a better understanding of the art form and allows you to make more informed decisions about the content you’re creating.
EFS: Is there a good balance between theory and production at UO?
Dr. Sirois: The original idea for the UO program was film studies. But the students who were interested in analyzing film are also interested in making film, so the program has expanded to include various production classes. When we first started, we had a total of three production classes, now there are 13 to 15 offered each year.
EFS: So students are getting more hands-on experience?
Dr. Sirois: In college, it’s all about what you do that matters. You can learn practical skills in the classroom, but you need to have real world experiences to put those skills to the test. Students can really benefit from searching out opportunities outside of the classroom and applying the skills they’ve learned in school to their own projects.
EFS: Are you seeing a lot of UO students participate in community film events?
Dr. Sirois: Yeah, I would say only a very small percent of Cinema students want to be only scholars, and the rest want to make films, so they’re out there participating in film events. If they really want to create something, and they’re hungry, they find these events. I think these events, like the EFS 72 Hour Horror Film and Music Video Competitions, appeal to them because it allows them to not only tell a story, but provides them with an opportunity to to have people see their work.
EFS: How important is collaboration with the community?
Dr. Sirois: A huge part of learning to work in film is learning how to work with other people. When you collaborate with others, you learn that the project isn’t always about you and your visions, and you learn how to work with other people’s visions.
In my music video class, I would have students work in teams, and I would choose teams based on each person’s individual talents. That way, everyone has something to contribute and everyone gets a taste of success. And when students work with the community, not just with other students, it forces them outside their comfort zones and they’re able to learn new things.
EFS: How do you choose which production classes to offer?
Dr. Sirois: All of the classes I’ve taught have been stuff I’m interested in. That way, I can offer the skills and experiences I have in those areas to my students. I’ve also had the opportunity to intertwine different production classes, such as with the indie filmmaking class, where we got to choose scripts from the screenwriting class to produce.
EFS: Is there any class that you would really want to teach but haven’t yet?
Dr. Sirois: I would like to do a higher level music video class, with small teams of students who are allocated a budget, and it would be their responsibility to not only create something but to have to be responsible for the budget as well. It would allow them a certain amount of freedom, but that freedom would come with some restraints and they would have to learn to work within those.
Eugene Film Society Presents, in collaboration with Sam Bond’s Brewing and The Barn Light East, the 2016 EFS 72 Hour Music Video Competition. From May 18 through 22, 12 regional filmmakers will compete to make the best 3 to 5 minute music video within 72 hours using songs produced by ocal musicians. There is an open call for both filmmakers and musicians to submit work for consideration in the competition. Call for musicians is open until May 6, 2016, and the application deadline for filmmaker is May 13.