Workshop for film school students and young professionals

In September 2018, young film professionals and film school students from across the globe gathered at Lithuania’s seaside area Neringa. For the twentieth time the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre invited creatives to attend an intensive two-week workshop Summer Media Studio (SMS). Summer Media Studio workshop welcomes young film professionals and film school students. Film crews included a scriptwriter, director, composer, sound designer, cinematographer, sound editor, musician and producer. The workshop took place September 3 – 15, 2018.

Indiana Filmmakers Network Inc. helped to sponsor and send our members to this Summer Media Studio Workshop in Lithuania, and we look forward to even more opportunities for our members to continue to learn at home and abroad in the years ahead.
SMS 2018

Paul Nethercott:

In September, 2018 IFN sent five of us to Europe to participate in Summer MediaStudio (SMS) — an annual film camp in Lithuania. I was one of the tutors and coordinated the trip for IFN. Under the guidance of staff and tutors SMS participants divided into film crews and made films. It was incredible to see 36 participants complete 7 scripted films in just 12 days. It was a crazy intense time of creativity with drama, conflict, tears, joy, laughter, ecstasy, and people talking about giving up. In other words, SMS gave participants a genuine filmmaking experience and exceptional learning opportunity. And, the location on the Baltic Sea is just fantastic. In 2019 I plan to take a group of 10 for SMS 2019 — If you have a strong desire to learn consider going! We will be announcing the details in the coming months.

Walter Bender:

SMS was a wonderful experience that helped me grow as a filmmaker and offered me a chance to work with talented people across Europe. It was great to receive hands-on work with a superb crew. I’m not going to lie, it is a fast paced environment, and you will likely have to perform multiple roles out of necessity. I went as an editor, but also worked as a script doctor, storyboard artist, and as a production assistant. Furthermore, I took on the position of producer which was an invaluable opportunity that I would love to perform again.

I improved my editing skills thanks to tips from one of the editors on staff with SMS. I have incorporated some of these tricks into my workflow at my job. On top of the actual short films we worked on, we also got to hear lectures from professionals in the industry such as a screenwriting professor from the London Film School, and a Lithuanian cinematographer. I found these lectures riveting.

The most valuable piece I took away from SMS was improving my communication skills. It is not hard for interruptions and discussions to become misconstrued but if you have patience you will manage to talk things through and your product will be all the better for it. I highly recommend participating in SMS.

Christina Stair:

SMS was an eye opening experience. I grew not only in my editing, skill as a filmmaker, and understanding of the process of making a film, but I also grew as a person. Working with such a wide array of people from many different countries and backgrounds let me see the same things from many different perspectives, which is a really great thing.

The experience shifted me out of my comfort zone, and also out of my complacency. I’ve done work on the same sort of projects for almost two years now. Being in a different place, experiencing new things, and working on a project so different from my normal work really inspired me and made me think about what I really want to do and the type of films I want to create. I realized that I need to push myself and pursue the things I thought were unattainable for me, even if that pursuit is uncomfortable, inconvenient, and maybe even a little costly.

I went on this trip knowing that it would push me, challenge me, and change who I am and how I see the world. I’m glad I went and I’m glad it changed me; and the memory continues to push me forward with the desire to improve. On top of that, now I have friends all over Europe… In Spain, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia!

I’m not even getting into how beautiful it was in Lithuania and the amazing people I met.

Alexa Weimer:

It was an incredible opportunity traveling to Lithuania and attending the SMS workshop. The program expanded my outlook on screenwriting and the process of making a film. The biggest lesson for me was learning to work the other people with various interests and perspectives. It was wonderful to meet others from all around Europe and work with them on a film project. I loved sitting around with the team and spitballing ideas back and forth for the plot and characters.

It wasn’t all enjoyable. My film crew had creative and cultural differences that resulted in a bit of confrontation. It was great to gain that experience and learn how to discuss opinions as well as make compromises as a team.

I was thrilled to listen to lectures filled with a lot of interesting information and activities. They opened my eyes to writing concepts and caused me to ask questions and consider other viewpoints. The consultants in screenwriting were amazing tutors and gave incredible advice on the plot. While I was expecting more mentorship and teaching time, I did learn a lot about myself as a writer, other ways to advance my writing, and how to write with another individual’s idea. The SMS program is a perfect learning experience for aspiring filmmakers that want to focus on their skills. We learned new approaches and perspectives from a range of individuals that challenged us creatively.

Rod Pasko:

One of the most fascinating experiences of my life. The setting was absolutely beautiful: deep dark forests, dunes, the sea, the beach, even local cities. I made friends with people halfway around the globe and got to experience a viewpoint on film that was profoundly European and unexpectedly quite different from the kind of moviemaking I was used to!

That was an education unto itself. But the real value in the SMS program — other than any gems of useful knowledge that you’ll pick up from the instructors or your fellow students — is the experience of planning, shooting, and then actually finishing a film in the span of 12 days. I was lucky. My “pitch” was chosen as one of the 7 story concepts to be greenlit by the instructors. I got to direct a film that I can rework into something I’ll be proud and excited to show at film festivals! But even if my story had not been chosen, the experience of working together with so many disparate, creative individuals on a mutual story — and the drama and surprising beauty that will be the nearly inevitable product of the team you are assigned — was invaluable. I was inspired anew that moviemaking is the path for me, and for that I can never thank SMS or IFN enough!

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