Last updated 4 months ago

All learning is self-learning, isn’t it? While teachers may be effective guides through the landscape of knowledge, it comes down to you at the end of the day to perceive, wrap your head around, and truly learn and maintain this knowledge. If you learn to guide yourself to navigate these landscapes and actively exercise your eye of observation, you have the power to learn anything, I think.

I may have, in a way, accidentally created a new tool — one which helps me in my own journey to become a filmmaker. Though to call it a tool may be silly as really its just a collection of existing tools, I guess perhaps workflow or just “flow” would be more apt. I was watching a movie one day and was struck by the unique transitions between scenes. To capture this moment I thought to pull in the snippeting tool into my space with the video and used it to cut the last few seconds. Then, grabbing the drawing tool I drew some rough lines of movement leading into the transition and took notes to the side of what I liked and why it worked so well. Then, putting all that aside, I continued watching the movie.

Having done this once, I started becoming more observant. Soon finding myself pausing movies frequently to take notes on the cinematography, composition, lighting, sound effects, script, and even moments where the movie was lacking — where if I was in the director’s shoes I would’ve made a different decision.

As these annotated snippets started to pile up, I added to the flow to get them sent automatically to a collection where I can go to browse all the notes I’ve taken like this. Which turned out to be more useful than I’d expected as the birds-eye perspective gave me a greater ability to recognize patterns across many different scenes or directors, I could now connect together different observations and meta-analyze my own analysis. I could even make new notes and annotations on top of a set of old ones in order for these patterns I notice to be recorded into my library too.

After a couple of weeks with this flow, and watching my library grow and grow, I mentioned it to a friend. She is also studying film and immediately took to the idea, having previously only been taking notes on films in physical notebooks. It seems she may then have told some of her friends because one of them had the brilliant idea to create a kind of shared library so that we can browse and learn from each other’s annotations — or even compare our observations on a single film.

Over time, more people were slowly added to our shared library — it started to feel like a tiny little social network for us film nerds. Through it I ended up meeting new friends and having so many fascinating discussions enabled by the inadvertent side-effect of broadcasting to the group what movies we’ve been recently watching.

I even received an email the other day from a guy in Lithuania who had heard about our little community and started a little shared collection of snippets with his own group of friends. It warms my heart to hear that we’ve inspired others to follow in our footsteps.

I’m surprised, every day really, how the tiniest action has snowballed into, well, all this! I didn’t do anything special, it could’ve happened to anyone. Just one small impulse to note down an observation and now we have a thriving community learning, improving together, and even making films of their own. From a single scene of a movie to a true scene (in the other sense of the word) of peers and collaborators all over the world. It feels like magic.