Do You YouTube?
It’s no secret that the success of web-based video sites is the result of clever clips depicting the theater of everyday life, and all its inherent drama, comedy, tragedy, tears and laughter. It’s the funniest-video show of this generation, accessible to the masses in almost instantaneous-gratification status on computers and mobile phones. Now, Carson City’s Wild Horse Academy of the Arts is bringing that power to the people, with its two-day, hands-on workshop, “Do You YouTube?”
Facilitated by Boston-born, California-based filmmaker Steve Marra, the intensive weekend work will teach filmmakers from ages 8 to adult how to create, write, shoot and technically tweak a film Wild Horse promises “can be viewed on the internet.” Creative forces with a pencil, notebook and great imagination will roll up their sleeves and get behind the camera with Marra, whose background includes marketing in Silicon Valley.
“I kind of migrated from that to films,” notes Marra, fresh from the slopes at Tahoe-Donner. “Films have always captivated me. But it’s hard to make a living doing films. I started doing podcasts. It wasn’t a huge distance from podcast interviews to video.”
His filmography includes an educational series on investigative learning, and while making corporate videos can be lucrative, Marra, 58, says “net filmmaking—including distribution—is the new way to chronicle … well, everything. Exit: grainy, black-and-white, Super-8 home movies of the Baby Boomers. Enter: camcorder-computer-cyberspace films, many of them made by kids somewhere between potty training and prom. That, says Marra, is irrelevant. The power is in the storytelling.
“The internet has leveled the playing field. Now, all you need is a computer that’s running iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, a video camera and a broadband connection, and you’re up-and-running.”
On the heels of the writers strike, the Oscars and even the inflammatory “God Hates Reno” video broadcasting on YouTube, Wild Horse Academy aims to get wannabe directors to think outside the proverbial box, and spark not merely independent film, but internet film and filmmakers, which now even Hollywood courts.
Historically, the glory of the writer’s vision gets perversely warped in the industry. Critically, web film is about what matters to the content’s creator—the producer—and takes it leaps-and-bounds beyond the idea, allowing them to direct, act, add music and much more. These might be short films, but making them manifest requires intense patience.
“Look on YouTube,” Marra suggests. “Some of it’s decent. An awful lot of it’s not. Simply because you know how to hook up a video camera, via FireWire, download and then upload, doesn’t mean you know how to make a film. The basic structure of putting one together hasn’t changed. The places that people can see what you create—or anyone creates—is what’s changed. When I do classes, especially with kids, I tell them ‘You cannot use special effects until you’re almost done.’ I repeat it three times, because the first thing they wanna do is have lightning bolts coming out of their buddy’s head. You have to mentally be able to tell a story, which has a beginning, middle and an end. Then you can enhance it with dogs barking, MP3s and all kinds of crazy special effects. You gotta tell the story first. Movies are magic. Theater, of course, is the genesis of it.”