Film Teaching Philosophy
As a teacher, I believe my role is to expose students to see, feel, hear, and be more open to their surroundings. A teacher needs to guide students to find their own language. While it is necessary to study the “masters”, my philosophy is to encourage students to go beyond them by relying on their own creativity.
Planned exercises and screenings expose students to what they cannot or do not yet see or understand. Personal experience has convinced me that to learn how to make films/videos, you need to view a lot of them and discuss them afterwards.
A film/video course needs to be fourfold:
- Screenings + discussion = To see
- Historical perspective = To know
- Critical perspective = To broaden
- Production (including planned exercises) = To make
By providing the technical tools to help students express what they do see, teachers serve as guides to develop and encourage their talents and help them recognize their own goals. That is why my teaching philosophy emphasizes dialogue in the classroom. The interchange between student and teacher is where real learning and critical thinking takes place, both by teacher and student.
In all the classes I have taught, participation, questioning, and active involvement in this learning process are encouraged and expected. One of my goals is that aside from helping students acquire skills (knowledge of technology, technique, and a historical/critical perspective), I want to impart my passion and enthusiasm to them.
One of my strengths as a teacher is that I am flexible and have many cross-disciplinary skills, which enable me to address wide audiences. My first-hand working knowledge of all phases of film/video production helps me identify with student problems and concerns. The combination of my European and American experience in the field, gives me a unique perspective on critical, historical, and technical production. A great deal of my satisfaction in this job is helping students learn irrespective of their background or age.
But the true reward in teaching for me is in knowing that I have been a catalyst in helping students achieve self-discovery. T.S. Eliot said it best:
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And to know the place for the first time.”
About Wendy Smith
After completing my MA in Television/Film/Radio at the the Newhouse School of Public Communications (Syracuse University), I went to France to feed my passion for filmmaking at the Cinematheque Francaise, and became an expert at super-8 – 16mm film techniques.
While in France, I finished my Ph.D. film and dissertation at the University of Paris X, France, where I studied ethnographic film with Mr. Jean Rouch. My 400-page thesis is filed at the Bibliotheque Nationale and my film, “Perry in his Garden”, is co-distributed by the CNRS in Paris.
Back in the United States, I taught video production as well as film production at various New York State universities.
In addition, I made several films and videos. My documentary work became more experimental, incorporating digital processing and computer graphics with video. As a result, I won awards at several national and international festivals.
I continue to teach both film and digital production, work on my projects, and freelance as an video editor and writer/producer.
Read about my Teaching Philosophy.
I also practice and teach the Chinese healing art, Qigong, and have produced a new instructional DVD.
Currently, I am producing an experimental documentary on the way identity is negotiated across cultural and political boundaries. This piece, “Dwelling in Displacement”, will be Part III of my trilogy on memory, identity, and home.
Read my Artist’s Statement.
Download PDF resume.
As an in demand teacher for documentary and video seminars, my strengths come from my extensive knowledge of film genres, in particular documentary and experimental film, and film/television history, so that I can pull up references with ease to assist students make better films and have better understanding of the issues and techniques I am teaching.
One of my strengths as a teacher is that I am flexible and have many cross-disciplinary skills, which enable me to address wide audiences. My first-hand working knowledge of all phases of film/video production helps me identify with student problems and concerns.
The combination of my European and American experience in the field, gives me a unique perspective on critical, historical, and technical production. A great deal of my satisfaction in this job is helping students learn irrespective of their background or age.
In addition, I have taught a variety of stress management, relaxation techniques, Tai Chi, and QiGong seminars and presentations, with a unique blend of different approaches, specializing in teaching people from 8 to 93 years old.