For the last few years I've been using a theater exercise - "ambiguous dialogues" to teach an important film concept, basically the difference between script choices and director's choices. An 'ambiguous dialogue' is pretty much what it sounds like. It is a short script in which two or three actors discuss something without any specificity, leaving it up to the actors to convey contextual clues through their body language, movements, and voice.
For my film class, I've used this exercise to show how directors can exert their influence through their creative vision, and that many of these choices aren't (or don't need to be) tied to the script. In groups, students are given the same script, but different genres and a class period to put together a film. They edit it the following period, and finish by presenting it to each other in the last class.
The Imagination Series takes this idea a step further, and creates an amazing opportunity to discuss the difference between what's in the script and what's on the screen. With a short one page script written by Academy Award winning scriptwriter Geoffry Fletcher (Precious), filmmakers are challenged to come up with a unique film in any genre, using any technique, time period, or location.
To see how impressive and creative the responses are, start with Room 8 below, and then check out the other winners on the Imagination Series website.
Room 8 from Bombay Sapphire on Vimeo.
I'd love to challenge my students to participate in the next contest, which is open for submission until August, but because its created and sponsored by Bombay Sapphire, they have a restriction on submissions from under-21s.
Oh well, still a great lesson for any film class.