Jewish Film Making
We began this semester of “Jewish Film Making,” by watching several films and TV shows, looking for themes and inspiration for our own movie project. During each of these first few evenings, we watched clips from popular films (mostly requested by the class), and used them as a stepping stone to discuss a variety of issues the films brought up through a Jewish lens. On the first night of class we watched clips from The Avengers highlighting each characters back story. Students brainstormed the strengths and flaws of each character, and discussed their own strengths and challenges they brought to the group, choosing the character(s) they most related with. At the end we discussed the idea of Jewish Community and how in a community each individual’s strengths can complement each other so the whole is stronger. My wish for the class at this point was that just like in this film, they would come together as a team to work on our film project, and be able to apply their own strengths and support each other’s challenges so we could come together and create something great as a team.
Over the next couple weeks we watched clips from a few more films to continue to find ideas and inspiration for our own film. We watched Space Balls, a parody of Star Wars, where good must conquer evil, and compared that to the Jewish idea of a personal inclination to good and evil (yetzer tov and yetzer hara). We watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and discussed on our own quests and what we hoped to accomplish in our lives. We watched an episode of Attack on Titan, a popular Japanese anime series and discussed the difference between courage and recklessness as well as similar Jewish stories, such as the story of the 12 spies in the Torah.
Most recently we have begun to take many of the ideas we discussed to begin to create our own short film that is both fun and meaningful. To get this process started we reviewed some of the major themes and discussions from the previous weeks. Teens called out ideas, while others helped record the discussion on the board. During this process we agreed that any idea goes (no critiquing yet), and that once we have everything in front of us we’ll begin to narrow it down. After a full night of discussion (and respectful debate), we narrowed it down to an idea that they all seemed to agree upon: a movie about a misfit GaGa team competing for the national championship. The idea was that along the way, they would be forced to deal with the various ethical situations that our Jewish framework provided, such as choosing to cheat when the odds were in surmountable (based on the “Good vs Evil” and “Courage vs Recklessness” discussion previously in the class). The last couple weeks we have continued to develop characters for the film (they have some serious background stories), as well as put together the script. We are excited to start filming the project this week and sharing it with the Midrasha Community. As the teacher of this class, I have to say that I am so impressed by the passion and motivation of this group, and can’t wait to see what we create.
Contact Midrasha Co-Directors Mark Deutsch and Debra Marx at (510)501-6692