16 February 2021
As lockdowns and the closing of recreational venues like bars, cinemas and theatres became commonplace throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, entertainment-starved people took to streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO Max and YouTube like never before. Even major studios who have long resisted premiering their films on streaming sites caved.
The lecturers from LASALLE’s Puttnam School of Film & Animation have long foreseen the changing winds in the shifting media landscape. As Diploma in Broadcast Media and BA(Hons) Film Programme Leader Khalid Al Mkhlaafy put it in a 2019 interview, “The internet has completely changed the creative industries. [...] The future is going towards publishing on Viddsee, Vimeo and other online platforms.”
At the end of 2020, the Diploma in Broadcast Media programme announced a formal partnership with streaming platform Viddsee to launch a channel aimed at providing LASALLE’s Broadcast Media students with a dedicated online presence. The channel would serve as a response to the changing patterns of media consumption, as well as having the added urgency of providing a platform for students who have lost out on physical festivals with a restricted amount of physical screenings in the midst of a pandemic.
Thus the Viddsee channel ‘Weird and Wonderful’ was born. Featuring the most subversive, inventive and thought-provoking work arising from the programme, the channel mainly revolves around videos made via internal collaborations with other programmes in LASALLE. This includes music videos produced together with the Diploma in Music programme, fashion films created with the School of Fashion and dance films co-conceptualised with dancers from the Diploma in Dance programme. The programme’s films also frequently feature actors from the Diploma in Performance, with Diploma in Theatre Production and Management working behind the scenes.
Such openness is integral to the programme, as filmmaking is fundamentally a collaborative art form. “It is important to encourage and implement a collaborative working culture for students as it prepares them for the real world when they graduate,” explains lecturer Wesley Leon Aroozoo. By tapping on the many other disciplines housed in LASALLE’s vibrant campus, students learn how to work with different ideas, improve their teamwork capabilities and appreciate the diverse perspectives from other artists. As Wesley puts it, “This experimentation and cross-disciplinary collaboration is what sets LASALLE’s programme apart from any other film course locally.”
But even as students learn the value of working in a team and incorporating multiple viewpoints, they also grow to hone their artistic voice and visual language. Every video on the channel has a distinct tone, aesthetic and point of view, which is something that the programme prides itself in developing in its students. By pushing students to explore different forms such as fashion films or music videos, the programme provides the space for them to experiment, push the boundaries of film and in the process, develop a personal creative voice.
It is these attributes – an open, collaborative posture, a daring attitude to subvert expectations and push boundaries, as well as a confident artistic voice – that form the basis of the toolkit that LASALLE equips its graduates with. As Chris Shaw, Head of the Puttnam School of Film & Animation, opines, “It’s shortsighted to simply prepare your students to be ready for the industry as it stands now. No one knows what the film industry will be like in the future. Instead, our students leave school with a toolkit that they will continue to develop throughout the rest of their professional lives. This toolkit is what will empower them to continually evolve and adopt new skills as they pioneer new paths in an industry that is constantly changing.”
‘Weird and Wonderful’ is updated annually, so look out for new films in the latter half of 2021