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Nia Williams ’23: Filmmaking Course at NYU Tisch

Project Date:
Project Date: Summer 2021

I took a six-week film intensive at NYU Tisch this summer called Sight and Sound Filmmaking with Professor Vondie Curtis Hall. During the course, I made seven short films.

About the Project

I received funding to participate in a remote film intensive at NYU Tisch titled “Sight and Sound: Filmmaking.” My professor was actor-writer-director Vondie Curtis-Hall, and our class met every weekday for three and a half hours for six weeks. The class was two-pronged, as it focused on building technique and artistic style. We had seven film projects in total and had around 3-4 days to create each project from conception to screening. Our first three projects were silent and black and white films, while the latter four were with color and sound, however, we were not allowed to use sync-sound during class. All in all, I grew tremendously throughout this program and learned more about my voice as an artist. I also made meaningful connections with my professor, TA, and fellow classmates and look forward to finally meeting them in person this fall during Duke in New York!

There were seven film projects in total. For the first one, the prompt was “Continuity”. The goal was to create a film that utilizes continuity in visuals, story, and editing; specifically through match-cuts. My film’s title is “O-TEEN” and is about an aspiring actor who struggles to overcome her past demons. The second prompt was “Character”. The purpose was to create a film that visually revealed the inner workings of a character, affording them humanity and realness through visuals and editing. My film is called “Mornin’ ” and is a psychological drama about a girl who struggles to get ready for the day. The third prompt was “Dream”, and our goal was to create a film that shows non-reality. My film, “Chop, Chop!”, details a man’s curious journey through “reality” after he takes a mysterious pill. The fourth film (our first one with color and sound) was to be a one-shot film that utilizes mise-en-scène and soundscapes to transport us into the story world. My short film, “Jehovah”, highlights the tremendously chaotic environment that a pair of siblings face in their city apartment. Our fifth film was found footage, and my short, titled, “Where Wisdom is Found” is a motivational collage film about childhood cinema. Our sixth film was our final project. My film, “Reverence”, is a story that weaves together past and present through memory, and is centered around a man’s amazement at the connection between the moon and the sea. Lastly, our final short was to be a compilation of all of our films. I titled mine, “Lexapro”, and created an unconventional advertisement for the anti-depressant using footage and bloopers from my previous reels.

Reflecting on Arts Amidst COVID-19

Without support from Benenson, I would not have been able to take this class, which has helped me grow in innumerable ways. Prior to this course, I had very little experience in directing films. However, due to the challenging and fast-paced nature of the class, I was forced to learn and grow quickly as a writer, cinematographer, editor, and most importantly, director. I am now much more confident in my filmmaking abilities and am energized to learn even more. Thus, I am extremely grateful to have been given support by the Benenson Award.