color, composition, etc. (all elements discussed in class)
I set this one up for the class. As you walked toward the classroom door, an artist’s statement mounted on foamboard stuck out into the doorway:
Left & Lost
The growing disconnect between teacher and student; one attempting to do their job and the other trying to make their own way.
“Blue is your cue, open it up and flip through!”
All lights were off and in the distance, at the back of the classroom, was a small table with the above binder on it. The binder was closed and spotlit by a modest light clamped to a chair next to it.
Using my real middle school binder, notes, doodles, drawings and writings and everything, I assembled these pieces with added material created for the assignment to tell the story of a passionate, driven kid who is trying to learn his own way, and the system that keeps him from doing so.
Using existing materials and adding in was a great method, I loved the authenticity of it. I loved playing with the extreme freedom it allowed, but also the sense of ultimate control, because every single thing is intentional, whether it’s for authenticity or storytelling purposes. The first few images show the work of a dedicated, hardworking student.
The first few images of non-schoolwork are spread throughout the first part of the binder, showing a progression of interest in something other than schoolwork, and its increasing demand on the student’s time and mind.
Getting into the script, we’ve left any semblance of schoolwork and gone full-on into fanfilm ideation. But within that there was a progression from basic idea to outlining, to the setup for the movie and the opening scene, and the beginnings of some storyboards. I wanted the storyboards a little bit early on, to show how fully the student was imagining their project, but kept the focus on the writing.
After a while, concept sketches and diagrams come back into the mix, including on-the-fly storyboards and designs for various set pieces.
One of the key plot points in my story here is notes from binder reviews. Binder reviews were when teachers reviewed student binders for organization and general study habits. One of the pieces I made for this project was a proposal for an independent study project at a local television station. The student would learn about local business but also quench their creativity’s thirst. The response note to that was the first denial of their ‘dream’ by their teacher.
Despite being shut down, the student continues imagining and planning for their movie, and receives another note from their teacher about focusing on schoolwork and letting their passion take a back seat.
Though it was created for the project, the final note is based on a real note I received in middle school about this very binder, and acts as the final straw for our fictional student. Upset, they draw an angry, fanged teacher confiscating their screenplay pages with them forlorn and despaired in the background.
Left to work on their passion outside of school, the student tries to fund their now-epic production by applying for a job. Unfortunately, not only are they underage but they have an impractical schedule for a local mom-and-pop hardware store to accommodate. The application, response letter and resume and accompanying doodles and sketches were created for the project and spaced a handful of blank pages after the previous teacher’s review note.
In response to their denial of his application, the student draws a ‘Babies of Tomorrow’ doodle, confused as to why young people are denied or left out of the world outside of education and homework and chores.
In the final focused drawing, the student sums up their emotional state with three words: “We’ve been abandoned” and demonstrates it in a chat with their friend, presumably during a class, by saying he’s given up on writing. And after so much denial from the world he’d perceived to be his oyster, who could blame him? These were created for the project, and are the only part I’d consider removing.
Many blank pages later, in the back pocket of the binder we find an old sketch of a character for the film and their lightsaber design, but behind that is a defiant, almost victorious drawing of the Iwo Jima Memorial with a Star Wars flag instead of the American one.