LaGuardia Community College and MoMA QNS have established a collaborative project that will allow student interns to work with the museum’s Department of Film and Media to produce a promotional video on early 20th century entertainment.
For the next few months, 11 liberal arts/media studies majors will be producing a five-minute DVD that will be used by the museum as part of a fund-raising packet to interest potential donors in supporting a museum exhibition, and a 90-minute documentary. The students’ work will serve to “preview” the comprehensive two-disc digital video to follow, which will examine moving pictures, popular music, and recordings from 1893 to 1929.
The two institutions look upon the collaboration as a perfect marriage that benefits both the museum and the students. For the museum, it is an opportunity to recruit a group of enthusiastic film students who will help to create a dynamic presentation of the “Amusement Project.”
“The department has never before attempted to produce a DVD to accompany a grant proposal,” said Ron Magliozzi, assistant curator of research and collections. “This one is intended to demonstrate audio-visual aspects of our proposed exhibition and feature length documentary. With the help of LaGuardia students, we expect to make this an important fund-raising tool in future presentations of the project.”
He added that he expects the final DVD set to be made available for sale to museums throughout the country. The completed full-length documentary will look at how the moving picture, popular music, and recording industries came together in the late 19th century and early 20th century to create the market for amusement in America. Through an approach that will both entertain and enlighten, the work will trace the evolution of entertainment from the invention of the moving picture in 1893 to the consolidation of the major Hollywood studios and the major music publishers in 1929.
And for the students, the project provides them with a rare chance to produce their own video with a premiere cultural institution.
“This is an experience that every film major dreams about,” said Humanities Professor Joyce Rheuban, who teaches the film courses. “Through this partnership, they are able work on a serious film project with a professional director. And to sweeten the pot, they get college credit.”
To prepare for the production project, which will delve into every aspect of flimmaking — from shooting on location to digitizing the museum’s vast collection of archival materials — the interns attended a six-week summer workshop where they learned how to use the video cameras and were introduced to the film editing process.
For the introductory sequence of the DVD, Magliozzi said he envisions a “new wave” style of presentation and has encouraged the students to approach the video they are shooting with this in mind. “While some of our work, such as the interview sequences and the still objects, will be filmed in a formal way to achieve an educational tone, for other sections of the DVD, the students will be encouraged to test their creativity at editing and animating on the computer,” he said.
While some students are shooting on location, some will assist a professional video crew. Others will be working in the college’s professional editing lab, shooting, inputting, and editing such rare treasures as old pieces of sheet music and hand-colored photographic glass slides. And still others will be responsible for editing old pieces of music.
Before going on location to shoot a roofline shot of the J train for the introduction of the video, a team of five students poured over a New York City transit map to identify the best location. As the students debated the issue, Mahesh Fernando explained what he hoped to get out of the project. “I am interested in learning and ins and outs of producing a documentary.”