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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Rhenals

Blog Post #97: One Day in English Class...

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

As I continue to develop a second feature film in these unique circumstances (having put aside my original follow-up's completed script due to the pandemic), I'd like to share some words about what I only recently realized was the first public exhibition of my short film work:

In fall 2003, I was a senior at Miami Killian Senior High and I had unsurprisingly fell into the good graces of my English teacher of that school year, Ms. Muller. I say unsurprisingly because the narrative theory and criticism explored in English class is as close as an aspiring filmmaker gets to film in high school. Additionally, I was also a rather boisterous, outspoken pupil and gravitated toward many of the ideas introduced in her classroom.

In any case, Ms. Muller soon learned that I'd recently produced my first short film, Mass Education, and was interested in seeing it. So, I lent her a VHS copy of my short (yes, I hadn't mastered DVD authoring at the time). And consequently, she invited me to share it with the class. I suppose she saw some merit and curricular relevance to what I'd made. In any case, I agreed but I recall being more nervously ambivalent than proudly honored.

A few days later, Ms. Muller introduced the screening to the class and lowered the lights. That nervous ambivalence persisted. And as my short film played, I ducked lower and lower into my chair desk. I did not at all appreciate that this occasion involved the first audience I'd ever had beyond my family for the product of what was my fairly recent and very solitary venture into filmmaking.

Given the rather humorless and dour nature of the short film, I remember rapt silence - even through the credits.

When the lights were turned back on, Ms. Muller initiated a little Q&A and asked me to share a bit of insight into this amateur cinematic confection the whole class had just witnessed. I could only offer an awkward and vaguely pretentious musing on meaning and interpretation. The lucid exposition and showmanship toward my work I've since adopted was far, far from conception.

Nevertheless, the screening was an important stepping stone and it exposed me to the reality of artistic exhibition, particulary as it applies to filmmaking. You must always stand by your work and be ready to speak intelligently and confidently about it. And ever since that memorable but stomach-churning occasion, I've always tried to live up to that.

In conclusion, I'd like to thank Ms. Muller for pushing me into the spotlight that day and helping me grow as an artist, especially one who is as committed to the public as to himself these days. Thank you so much!

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