Sunday, October 28, 2007

Student Interview[s]...

Last week I met with a potential student for the fall of 2008 who is trying to decide which discipline to select at Flashpoint Academy. I began as I always do in this situation, asking just one question: "Of these four creative areas, can you identify where your passion lies?" He started with detailed descriptions of his love for filmmakers and sound designers from the Czech Republic, "You've got to check out Daisies by Vera Chytilová," he said. “It’s got an amazing soundtrack for a film from 1966." He went on to say he's planning a trip there next summer that will last three weeks, starting and ending in Prague—one last jaunt before school begins. He told me about the music he's making, the videos he's shooting and editing, the animation he's messing around with. He also told me about his recent wanderings—to the East Coast and back—trying to find something that works for him. Finally, he said, not any one of these disciplines seems to speak louder than the others.

After a short silence he asked, "What are some of your favorite film soundtracks in terms of sound design?" I could tell he wanted to listen now so I told him about Bresson’s A Man Escaped and Godard’s A Woman Is A Woman, but how I especially love to point out in Aesthetics classes the stark contrast between the magical fantasy of Jeunet's Amélié and the gritty underworld of Iñárritu's Amores Perros. I told him that in my opinion, both soundtracks serve the narrative with exceptional design. The former is highly polished, rounded, and though dynamic, somehow soft, while the latter is utterly raw, constantly on the edge of distortion, and grating. I then explained the entire first year of the Recording Arts curriculum and how it fits into the overall vision of the school. I described some of the things we expect of students and what things students can expect of the faculty and staff. We talked about the capstone courses and open framework of the second year where students can propose and execute project ideas, land internships, and engage in Flashpoint Academy Studios real-world projects. We talked about the creative atmosphere of the facilities—the labs, stages, studios, classrooms, and artwork. I told him all of it is necessary and important information—and we were having a great conversation around it—but I knew we were not any closer to what he wanted to know.

So, I just came out with it, "When you go to sleep at night and when you wake in the morning, do you see or do you hear?" I looked at him and he at me. I could sense that in seconds of time all of his journeys, some wildly undefined, were flashing by in his mind—countless hours spent heading toward creative goals. The movies, the music, the animation, and the games sped right on by. Now, he wanted structure. He wanted to make it mean something more than personal exploration. Then in a moment of clarity, "I see images."

Suddenly it seemed as if everything had changed. There was an internal focus now, but he wanted to make sure. "So, I'll be working with the sound people and animators and game developers, right?" "That's the idea," I said. My recommendation he become a Film student was just a formality.

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One of the great things about our admissions process is that the faculty has a chance to meet and spend some time with students who are thinking about attending the Academy. We take the process very seriously and do it without a thought of competition between the departments. It's a difference worth noting and one that we believe sets Flashpoint apart.

Committing to two years of professional training at FPA is not for the faint of heart; we've said that over and over again in our promotional material and face to face during interviews. The current students are finding out we are not kidding about 40 hours a week. It's hard. In fact, it's really hard to research and write and shoot and design and read and render and record and edit and mix and collaborate all day and still have time for anything else. Welcome to the real world at Flashpoint.