Students participate in art summer programs

October 15, 2018 — by Elaine Toh and Jeffrey Xu

Students participate in art programs over the course of the summer.

During the summer in Washington, D.C., senior Nick Burry sat filming in a cramped dorm room, creating a scene about a son visiting his dying father with Alzheimer’s Disease. The 5-minute fictional film, titled “Memory Lane,” was written and directed by Burry during an intensive summer program he attended at American University, which started at the end of June and lasted four weeks.

Burry is one of several students who chose to attend art summer programs

At American, Burry worked under the tutelage of former Hollywood film director Steven Holloway, who had been in the industry for 35 years before becoming a professor. Under Holloway’s direction, Burry gained a hands-on learning experience and learned how to handle professional film equipment.

The film study program taught students how to shoot a film from start to finish. During the first week, students underwent pre-production, which included brainstorming ideas, writing scripts and choosing the top three they liked, Burry said.

After finishing pre-production, they worked in five-person teams and filmed everything in one day in order to make their films concise.

Burry said that the purpose of having teams is so that people can help each other with the production process, including holding the boompole and gaffer or being an assistant director.

While producing “Memory Lane,” Burry said he had to be creative with his given resources, as they had to work around the limitations of their environment. This meant students often had to settle for shooting in more ordinary places.

It was amazing because my professor was telling me how you don't have to be barred by anything,” Burry said. “We shot mine in a dorm room, and I don't think many people could even tell that it wasn't a senior citizens’ home.”

Burry said that he enjoys everything about creating a film, which is why he wants to pursue it as a college major and career.

“l love the whole process, aesthetics of cinema, editing, coming up with stories, everything,” Burry said.

Since getting back to school, Burry has began producing new films, including “Cindy,” which follows the deceased protagonist as glimpses of his life flash through his mind, as well as “The Bar,” an unfinished silent film. He will include “Cindy” in his college applications’ art portfolio supplemental and said that his dream is to go to film school in LA in the future.

Another student who attended a summer art program was junior Iris Chiu, who was accepted into  California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA) in CalArts this past July and August, where she focused on painting and film photography.

At CSSSA, Chiu said she learned non-traditional styles for her painting and a variety of skills for photography, including shooting techniques, processing and using different chemicals for film development.

Due to the summer program, Chiu views art differently, no longer concentrating on solely creating realistic-looking art. Other genres that she is interested in now include modern and abstract art. She believes that if the concept is good, the art is valuable. She is also focusing less on the competitive aspects of it, no longer comparing herself to others because art is subjective.

“In previous years, I’ve been really focused on seeing ‘good art’ as realistic, Renaissance oil painting and traditional,” Chiu said. “But the program I went to really focused on the more modern approach of making something [completely new]. They really opened my eyes in seeing and experimenting with different genres [that were] not realistic.”

Chiu said that while most European traditional forms of art contain more realistic light, shadows and gradients, Chiu’s pieces are more abstract and shape-based, containing more contrast and bright color.

Unlike Burry, however, Chiu said that she does not plan to pursue art as a career or college major. She said she does anticipate pursuing a hands-on career path in which her skills in art will be applicable, such as product design or mechanical engineering.

“I just hope to keep art in what I do because I've been doing it for a while,” Chiu said. “I kind of want to keep it as a hobby, not like, 'I want to paint and put my stuff in a gallery.’”

In addition, Burry, who is a member of the school’s Media Arts Program, said that his summer experience exposed him to a lot of equipment and techniques used in industry that aren’t taught in MAP.

“I think the biggest difference is just the scale,” Burry said. “In MAP they tell you a lot of steps of how to do the films, but the difference is [Holloway] had been in Hollywood before, so he had a lot more knowledge. Nothing against the MAP program, but just he knew a lot more. He had a lot more to share.”

Chiu also said that CSSSA gave her an opportunity to experience a different environment than her more technically-focused art class at SHS.

“CSSSA was more like an open studio where you kind of just go in, and they encourage a lot of nontraditional things,” Chiu said. “So you can throw paint and that would be fine.”

Both Chiu and Burry are grateful for the opportunity they had to attend to the summer art programs and found them valuable. Burry said he appreciates the plethora of experience he was able to gain from studying under Holloway’s direction.

At the end of the four weeks, I really appreciated my professor and how much he had taught me, and looking back on it, I know I learned a lot,” Burry said.

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