As a child, I struggled to find my niche. I did not enjoy sports. I did not excel at music. And, I was too quiet and observant to be a social butterfly.
But, suddenly, everything fell into place when I performed in a theatrical production for the first time in sixth grade. I was a duckling with a handful of lines, but those moments on stage were precious to me, and I have been craving more and more performance opportunities since. Who knew I would later be relating my passion of theatre to the sports world in which I was not well versed.
Typically the performing arts and sports do not mix. However, producer/director/actor Timothy Busfield took some inspiration from sporting goods company Nike and applied it to theatre and film at his workshop at the East Lansing Public Library on the 12th and 13th of September.
Just do it.
What I took away from this weekend’s workshop was the idea that inspiration can come from anywhere. We, as students, simply need to start. How do you get good at sports? Practice. The same goes for theatre and film projects – you get better by doing and creating.
Tim explained that so often kids are deterred from theatre and film because the idea of creating something from the ground up can appear to be an immense task, similar to pushing a giant boulder up a hill. Obtaining storyboards, scripts, equipment and human talent can be so overwhelming that the creative process becomes a heavy burden, sometimes stalling completely.
I have been part of the performing arts world for nearly 10 years now and have first-handedly experienced this freezing of the creative process. More than once. It can be frustrating and tiresome to plan and pursue ideas that are slow in completion. It is completely disheartening and can be absolutely intimidating.
While attending his workshop, Tim helped me to realize the potential within myself as well as the ease with which I can share my work and my talents with the world. All it takes is an idea, basic equipment and the willingness to dive in.
If I make a mistake with my lines? I’ll learn from it. If I believe my editing could improve? I’ll experiment. If I have a crazy plot or character idea? I’ll try it. I realized there’s no room for fear in the industry, and why should there be? Creating content and sharing those creations is what matters most. The industry is forever growing and changing, so why not grow and change with it?
I hope to implement Tim’s advice in my professional life. I want to challenge myself to create freely. I want to be happy with my work and continue to improve with each project. But, most of all, I want to toss fear and hesitation out the door. Don’t hesitate. Just do it.
So, thank you, Tim, for sharing, discussing and inspiring young adults like myself this weekend. Your guidance and positivity were greatly valued and taken to heart.
It was great to see the younger kids looking up to Tim and taking his advice in stride, too. Being able to get a first-hand experience of how the film world operates appeared to be extremely beneficial, a blast even, to the kids.
6th Grade attendee Molly Conlin writes:
My experience at the East Lansing Library Performing Arts Warm Up was amazing. Tim Busfield was the director. He played Elliot in “Thirty Something”, a television show in the 1980s and 1990s, and has acted in many other productions and directed many more. We learned how to use cameras and actually made a film in the 4 hours and 30 minutes of that session. I got a taste of what being in a movie actually feels like.
The first hour and half was spent showing us how to use a camera and doing improvised acting, or improv, and learning how to use the camera and the sound. It seems very simple to work a camera, even a phone, but the artistic part is finding the right angle and making the action feel alive. In most movies there are two cameras so the audience can see different perspectives. If one camera is catching someone saying something, the other camera can catch the second person’s reaction. In the Performing Arts Warm Up, Mr. Busfield also gave us a lot of camera tips for drawing the audience into the film. For example, in Jaws when the background looks farther back and changes color, the camera man is moving back while zooming in on the subject.
The rest of the time we had together we spent creating the short movie. The concept was that a trouble maker comes in the library and starts a dance party. We picked a classic song (Up Town Funk) and put it to a dance we learned on Saturday. The camera kids took shots from all different angles.
After filming all the scenes, we all came together. Mr. Busfield was answering question. One student asked, "Are we going to get to see the film?" I was surprised by his answer. He told us that the day filming was for the experience, not the product. He told us that making a film is really long hours and really hard work. With that, Mr. Busfield advised us to get involved in film any way we could, like creating an acting or film group at school.
Megan Cochrane is a junior double majoring in theatre and journalism at Michigan State University. Originally from Mattawan, MI, she now resides in East Lansing. She has previously enjoyed working for The State News and shadowing at WWMT News Channel 3 in Kalamazoo.
Molly Conlin is a 6th grade student in East Lansing, MI. She loves Debate Team, especially improv (her favorite role was playing Calvin and Hobbes' babysitter); soccer, cross country running, reading any and all books, and making IMovies with her friends, family and cat named Cassowary.