‘The opening shot: the camera slowly sinks down through cloud. We swoop out of the sky: there is an island beneath us. The camera zooms in. A frog, sitting eating flies— perhaps smoking a pipe…’
Yesterday, awaited with considerable excitement, was the day of Insight Masterclasses in Jowett Walk. ORA’s Insight Masterclasses are deeply educational events, in which a visiting expert comes in to give workshops in subjects about which students generally could not learn in schools.
In the Film and Production workshop, students discussed the structure of a film, analysing the ways in which a ‘typical’ film would introduce the setting and characters, and looking at the ways in which the different acts in a film are often used, before creating the structure of an imagined film (from which the above quote is extracted). With a lot of examples used, and some very passionate responses in favour of particularly favourite films, students were eager to take part in the discussion.
In the Acting and Theatre class, the workshop focused heavily on improvisation, and on games that improve and unfetter creativity, building towards students preparing their own sketches at the end of the time.
Chaos Coding, meanwhile, saw students learning the fundamentals of basic computer language in order to create software of their own. Using simple hardware connected to laptops via USB, students made for themselves pedometers like those used in the Apple Watch. It was a very instructive session.
The Zoolab session in the marquee, meanwhile, brought a large number of creatures seldom seen in Jowett Walk, or indeed Oxford, into the students’ own hands. Led by a former soldier, whom the students were delighted to quiz in a break midway through the session, the animals included a Blue-tongued Skink, called Blue; a Milk Snake called Milkshake, whose cuteness was the subject of much oohing and ahhing; a long-legged, very hairy tarantula; a Rankin dragon, very mildly venomous and with a soft underside that captivated those who held him— and many more. The masterclass was a great success: it was much enjoyed, and a huge amount was learnt.
In the evening, after the chance to play football or croquet out on the pitches, students were given a dose of music-infused exercise, with a choice between salsa and Zumba classes. For those who preferred to find themselves an academic rhythm rather than a Latin one, there was the Homework Club; and over in the University Parks, there was an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.