Book vs. Film

So reading week is upon us and I am buried in course readings. I had planned to buckle down and start reading a few days ago, but alas I procrastinated and started to late.

Realizing that I would have to read for five straight days without sleep in order to finish the three novels and stacks of course readings that are waiting for me, in a panic I decided that I would find these novels on film.

I’ve never done this before. I am of the firm opinion that the book is always better than the movie. However, when the choice is to not read any of the book or to watch a bad movie about said book, which will not be read in time, then the movie will at least give me some point of reference for class discussions.

I lucked out big time with this attempt at condensing my readings into film format. Unbeknownst to me one of the books I was assigned was actually the script to a documentary. In a case such as this it just doesn’t make any sense to read the book. I mean it was written for the screen. It’s like reading Shakespeare…an effort that in my opinion that deviates far too much from the original intention…plays are meant to be watched not read.

So this documentary, that I was assigned to read was actually really great. The narration was written by one of my former professors, which is cool in itself, and it did a great job of bringing the course material to life. I feel that in this case seeing the documentary and reading the book are of equal academic value. Watching the book was just so much easier and more enjoyable.

Is this cutting corners? I don’t think so. As long as I get the intended information into my brain, it doesn’t really matter much to me how it gets in there. If in some cases that movie or play is a more effective way for you to learn the course material then more power to you.

In this particular case, the movie beat out the book hands down. The U of T Library website has a massive collection of movies that are free to borrow. Check out their page and maybe one of the books you are having difficulty getting through will be on film.

-Lori

 

Let’s make something amazing! #joyatuoft

So, last Monday at around 10 a.m. after a very late night and a very early morning, my restless pursuit of coffee through the Bahen Centre was met with this:

YES. It was like MY DREAMS HAD COME TRUE: my very own foot-piano! Delighted, I tapped out a little “Gin and Juice” before texting a very good friend and promising him I would serenade him in a way unlike any other if he would immediately make his way to Bahen Centre. This month - in the middle of winter, as Singles’ Awareness Day looms on February 14th – the office of student life is on a massive campaign to get students talking about how we find joy on campus. For me, joy is in the things like this; it’s something we can create.

As a result, my dear lifeatuoft readers, I propose a challenge: this month, make something. Make something cool. Make a piano you can play with your feet. Or whatever. Make something that no one’s going to mark you on but it doesn’t matter because it’s awesome. In high school, I used to paint and play in a garage band and build things in the tech wing of my school. Coming to university, many of us forget our old hobbies. So, I’ve compiled a list to get you started. Some of these are semester-long commitments, while (for the low commitment folks among us) some are only one-time workshops, and none of them are more than $10:

Film-making.
There’s a part of me, deep down inside, that wants nothing more than to be a documentary film-maker. As luck would have it, the U of T Film Festival is the perfect place to blaze my trail to cinematic glory. Submissions are due March 2 at 5pm, with screenings and awards on March 22.

Robots.
They’re taking over. Make yourself their master before it’s too late. Check out the University of Toronto Robotics Association to make all kinds of ridiculously awesome robots, some of which have even been featured on the Discovery Channel.

Open mic night at Hart House.
Make some noise! Poetry, comedy, improv jazz – whatever you do, come do it at Hart House. The next event is at 7:30 pm on February 16th, and it’s free. Bring friends!

Poetry workshops.
Some of you may remember that I blogged about one of the workshops with our Poet-in-the-Community, Ronna Bloom, in first semester. It was amazing, and that woman can make a poet out of anyone. Her next workshop – literally, “Writing your way out of a paper bag” – will be on March 2 at 12pm in the Hart House East Common Room. Free.

Animation.
A masterclass in low-budget animation, $10 on March 20 at 6pm, Hart House. “Understanding the Illusion of Life” is a beginners’ workshop where we’ll learn how to make an animated film from brainstorm to final cut. Excited.

Photography.
A very active and amazing campus group, the Hart House Camera Club is currently accepting submissions of photography for their annual exhibition. If you’re still looking to develop your prints, they’re offering a “Darkroom Days” event thus Sunday (February 12) at 2pm.

Food!
If you like to grow food, you can get involved with Dig In! Campus Agriculture, who are an amazing student-led group committed to growing sustainable food on campus. They even do beekeeping! If you’d like to get busy in the kitchen, I suggest you check out Hot Yam, a student-led group where you can cook (or just eat!) healthy, delicious creations on Wednesdays at the Centre for International Experience. It’s okay if you just want to show up and eat their stuff and then run away. That’s what I do, and it’s delicious.

Crafts.
Every Thursday at 11am in the Hart House Reading Room, come get crafty, for free. Next week: friendship bracelets. Or, study group bracelets, should you feel so inclined.

Life drawing.
The Victoria College Life-Drawing club meets Tuesdays at 8:30pm in EM108. You can join them to draw, OR you can even get semi-naked for them and watch all kinds of student artists draw your luscious body. Your choice.

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Overall, I’m excited for all of the opportunities this month. With graduation and my future looming in the approaching not-so-distant future, a friend and I were chatting about what I intend to study in grad school. I listed a few of my ideas but told her that I couldn’t seem to decide which one, and her advice was to go out and create something in each discipline, and see which one felt right. In academic life, it can be easy to forget to stop abstracting and start creating, but maybe doing so is a great way for all of us to rediscover ourselves and see our interests in a new light.

Any other suggestions? Feel free to add them in the comments below!

In the meantime, show your classmates what you’ve been up to! Post your adventures to the Joy at U of T blog!

Jennifer

U of T on the tube

Last week I gave you readers a challenge when I checked out the Hart House Film Challenge. If making a video in one weekend seems like too much of a challenge for you and you preferred watching the talents of the amateur film makers scattered across campus instead of getting behind the camera, you’re in luck. I have just the fix for all you couch potatoes; brought to you, yet again by the talents of U of T.

That’s right, U of T has its own TV station called UTTV! You can check them out online on their website and on their YouTube channel.

UTTV is home to several shows that highlight features of our university, as well as student-created dramas and sketches.

Here’s your UTTV guide to what’s up and coming:

Event Countdown provides you a weekly list of events happening right on campus. Imagine your Top 40 countdown, except instead of hits you’ll get the lowdown on events you won’t wanna miss!

UTTV News goes more in depth about what’s going on campus-wide and reports on school issues, events, and student interviews.

Campus Docs is a documentary show that focuses on various aspects of U of T, such as the History of Hart House.

Without Permission is a sketch comedy that is released bi-weekly and written by students.

Upcoming shows

Sudden Death Lockdown is U of T’s first ever reality show that hosts “8 strangers, 1 room, 12 hours”. Auditions were held in November for participants. It’s a game of elimination that is upcoming and still in the works. So look out for it soon!

Hearts and Science is UTTV`s soon to be released soap opera dramedy show involving campus students. What’s a dramedy, you ask? It’s the best of both worlds in the realm of comedy and drama.

Campus Eats provides a take on all things regarding food, featuring places to eat on and around campus.

U of T Flash Mob is also an upcoming show still in the works where UTTV is planning on orchestrating and filming a flash mob event.

All shows and episodes are written, directed, filmed and edited by U of T students. In fact, if you see anything interesting that you want to get involved in or anything new that you think would be great for UTTV’s channel, then get involved!

UTTV encourages help with any aspect of any of its productions (whether writing, acting, researching, directing, editing, or producing new original ideas). Membership is FREE and experience is not required to get involved.

Speaking of FREE, (a word I know many of us students love)… UTTV has giveaways to new members who sign up on their website! Giveaways in the past have been things like gaming gear, tickets to advanced screenings of movies, and Rockstar drinks. Signing up on their website automatically enters you into the draw for a chance to win cool prizes.

So what are you waiting for? Get out of your seat and as they said in their commercial: “Come make U of T a better place. Help make history… and destroy Harvard in the process.”

- Danielle

Take on a new challenge this weekend… The Hart House Film Challenge!

I have always wanted to film a documentary. It’s just one of those things that I would love to cross off my bucket list one day. I’ve since realized that films take time, skills, resources, editing, and sometimes even a little money. But really, all obstacles aside… you don’t have to be among the likes of Michael Moore with high tech equipment or exclusive access to an out-of-the-ordinary lifestyle set for the big screen. These days people make films about anything and everything! I’m serious. There’s even a film about Helvetica!

The only thing you really need is an idea, a camera, and simple editing skills. We live in an iMagical world where devices can capture photos and videos that can be easily cut, paste, and neatly strung together to create a story. It all might sound like a bit of a challenge, but if you’re up to it… I present you with the Hart House Film Challenge!

Hart House film challenge

Hart House film challenge

Their website gives all the information on the initiative and how to participate in the weekly challenge. Basically, there is a given theme set for each week that ranges anywhere from horror to tragedy and everything in between. Once you’ve decided that you’d like to enter the challenge, a given word, phrase or prop is spontaneously e-mailed to each participant or team to create a short film under 5 minutes in length. You are given from 10am on Friday to Monday at noon each week to submit and upload your video.

Best of all, there are prizes! Each month, there is a prize-draw sponsored by the Bloor cinema for all eligible participants.

I was able to get in touch with two past participants of the challenge who had great things to say about the experience and whose short films I personally enjoyed very much.

  • Ammar Keshodia, a first year student studying Economics and Political science entered the first challenge with the genre Comedy and had to use the challenge words: Student and Laboratory to create his short film. Along with a cast and crew of other U of T students their submission led to a short comedic film titled “Diversion” about a girl who keeps procrastinating when she needs to finish an essay.

Here’s what Ammar had to say about the experience:

I’ve never really made any films before this one, I’ve just been really interested in movies and moviemaking. We saw the HHFC as a good excuse to get into it, and it was a great starting point for beginners like us, mostly due to the fact that the challenge provides you with some restrictions and keywords that set some boundaries for your creative realm rather than just leaving things open ended and ambiguous. Creating something like a film in a constrained period of time is hard work, mostly because filmmaking is so dependent on quick and efficient collaboration. We definitely learnt a few things as this was our first time around filming anything; carefully planning out what you’re going to do rather than jumping straight into things is key to avoiding any problems or roadblocks. All the team members are enthusiastic in participating again. As for me, if the right category or theme comes along and I have a good idea to go on, I’d love to do it again. That being said, I am looking at working on some other bigger projects that may not be suited to the confines of the challenge, even though it was a great starting point. Overall, I really enjoyed the experience; given the time limit I think the resulting film turned out well and our team did a great job.

  • Darrin Campbell was a participant of the Horror genre challenge that used challenge words: Scientist and Gloves. Here’s what he had to say about the experience:

I’ve always been an avid participant in everything “film” and the hart house film challenge was a wonderful avenue to express my ideas and passion for film. Making a movie as amateur as it turned out just encouraged me to pursue greater knowledge about film making. I will continue to learn the techniques and technical aspects of film making so I may submit more appealing movies into the HHFC, and eventually submit a movie into the University of Toronto film festival.

You can view both films and more on the submission page. I definitely encourage you to do so! It was great to see the creativity and hard work that these participants put into this challenge. The HHFC is in its start up stages and has already had a great response from several talented students and participants. Even if you don’t think that being behind the camera is for you, don’t worry – there are other ways to get involved! You can volunteer to help run the challenge by contacting HHFC at filmchallenge@harthouse.ca.

I spoke with Rick from Hart House who says:

There are many similar  competitions all over the world in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavours and at the U of T Film Festival we have run film contests in the past. We decided to set up something a little more permanent. On-line and Ongoing. We had a call for volunteers and 3 people stepped up to take care of some nitty gritty operation. We can use more help, especially thinking ahead. As a long-time staff member at Hart House I know we get these great volunteers who will inevitably leave the nest as it were. We always need people to keep the good ideas going (and getting new ones started, like this one).The rules say under 5 minutes maximum but that doesn’t mean it HAS to be 5 minutes. Small 1-minute, 2-minute movies are easier on everyone. One entrant asked me if it was okay to not have a team and do something myself and the answer was a resounding YES. Simple can be very effective. Of course, if you want to go to town, that’s good too. What I love about this is that everyone can hone their chops at their own level. That’s what it’s about: honing your chops. And challenges like this force you to concentrate for a short period and spit something out the other end. It’s the only way to learn. Finishing what you start, for better or worse, is an important part of the process.

In a nutshell, the HHFC falls under four f-words: FREE, fun, and up to five minutes. Lastly, it could lead to fame! That’s right. All entries are eligible for the annual U of T Film Festival that will be held on March 23, 2011 at Hart House this year. The submission deadline is March 4, 2011.

So if you’re thinking of getting a little creative, give it a shot! There are even several creative classes offered at Hart House in film making, among other creative outlets such as music and theatre. There is a new offering of classes that all sound interesting and fun! I might even try my hand at one of their new interesting classes learning the ukulele. You never know, it could be an upcoming challenge word in the Hart House Film Challenge…!

- Danielle

The keener’s perspective on doing stuff at U of T

“I feel like I missed out on undergrad.”

I said it out loud to no one in particular and was overcome by a fleeting moment of emptiness before being yanked back to reality. It was Saturday night and my friend and I were seated comfortably in the Hart House Theatre, surrounded by that distinct stuffiness of old auditoriums and a shifting darkness that spoke of anticipation. The 15th Annual Hart House Festival of Dance was about to begin.

It was a night of many firsts. It was the first time since the beginning of undergrad that I had ventured into the Hart House Theatre, the first time I had seen a campus-wide performance and the first time I truly appreciated the multitude of talents possessed by the U of T student body.

After the show, I was physically tired yet I felt so alive – more alive than I have been for a long, long time. Looking at the wide display of talent from that night and knowing the students come from an equally wide variety of academic disciplines, I realized that it is possible to have a life outside of the cubicle in Robarts Reading Room. It is possible to lead a not-so-humdrum life without jeopardizing your marks or your future. It is possible for undergrads at U of T to feel joyful about life!

It feels like everything I’ve done in undergrad thus far has been for one purpose only: building my resumé. I began building in first year towards a career in medicine. The result of all this effort became somewhat irrelevant when in second year, I decided to switch from medicine to counselling. But even then I wasn’t really sure, so by my third year I told myself that I needed to try laboratory research because, after all, I am in Life Science – what do people specializing in Molecular Biology do if they don’t do laboratory research?!

So I nearly sold my soul fighting for a summer research position, but in the meantime, that summer I nearly lost my soul to a new-found love called journalism. This seemingly insignificant cognitive dissonance ultimately resulted in a mild quarter-life crisis by the start of my fourth year. The confusion (and panic) I experienced was not unlike those expressed in Cynthia’s post. Then finally, just as this past fall semester was about to end, by a stroke of luck I stumbled upon a career that even I, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, would deem to be “just right.”

Would I say that I regret having tried to build my resumé in all those different directions, for all those different career goals that never worked out in the end? Probably not. My personal philosophy is that everything happens for a reason, and a corollary to this is that everything we choose to do brings meaning into our lives. Therefore, I don’t choose to label any of my past experiences as a “waste of time.” What I do want, however, is to go back to the past and fix the attitude with which I have done all the things I did.

What I’ve learned is that our lives go far beyond the things we put on our resumé. At one point in high school, when I was still heavily involved with the music portions of my school’s annual variety shows and spent hours after school reading my poetry and short stories to people in my Writers’ Guild, I had known this. I made the distinction between my personal and then-budding professional life, and my life was completely mine. Looking back, I realize that:

  1. We are not obligated to shove everything we do into a column on our resumé. Sometimes, it’s not a crime to do things simply because it’s fun and makes us happy.
  2. We can get so much more out of a potentially resumé-worthy experience if we don’t prejudice it to a specific (career) goal straight off the bat. This allows us to be fully receptive to all aspects of the experience and prevents us from being locked into tunnel vision.

Walking out of the Festival of Dance that evening, I suddenly felt like joining some sort of performance group at U of T – just for me and my sanity. In high school, things were so simple: there were two major shows each year and one office where you signed up for everything, including auditions. But U of T is so large that not only is there an overwhelming number of groups and opportunities available for the artistically minded, it’s hard to find them, too.

So I dug around the web for a bit and stumbled across a relatively new website called ArtsZone. It’s an amazing hub for all sorts of opportunities – both academic and extracurricular - in the arts at U of T, where “arts” can be anything that fall under the category of architecture, film, music, new media, theatre, visual art and writing. There is even a page featuring the newest art-related opportunities in our school and also in the city, such as auditions, submission deadlines, jobs and workshops! How awesome is that?! I also found plenty of student organizations and groups for the arts at the good ol’ Ulife website.

All of this might take you a while to browse and digest, but I urge you to do so if you feel even a tiny itch to participate in the U of T or Toronto arts scenes. Fresh out of the dreadful womb that is Robarts, I must now go and also explore all this new-found wonder. In the meantime, let there be music.

-Lucy

Arts Week, Next Week: uft haz artz o i didnt no

Have you been to 1 Spadina Crescent?

I went once last year. On a random day. It looks ghostly from the outside, and I felt like an intruder (as it was particularly empty at the time). In first-year, part of me still wanted to switch my undecided minor to Visual Arts. Yeah, like anything’s changed, bwah ha digression ends.

1 Spadina Crescent is U of T’s mysterious fine/visual art stronghold. I sometimes forget we have one. There is also the inclination to believe U of T’s interpretation of art to be that of the pretentious, stuffy, expensive and redundant kind. NOT SO!

I hope, anyway. But, guess what! Next Thursday begins U of T’s 2009 “Celebration of the Arts” Week/Event/Thingamajiggy! And, guess what again! Because it begins next Thursday, I have nothing to report! For once, I can tell you of an event… (gasp)… before it actually occurs!

There promises to be the unveiling of U of T’s “best kept secret, that being… oh. That being U of T’s entire artsy prestige. Guests get to go through and observe the studios of the creators/professors on what looks like a ‘speed dating’ basis. There will be a brass instrument involved. It will be more lively than this paragraph. It’s FREE. Most of the events are. The most expensive were… $25 (for non-student adults); one being a music performance called “Earth, Wind and Fire.”

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Oh, excuse me. “Earth, WATER, Wind and Fire.”

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With fifteen minutes* left to end this vagueness, here’s everything that looks like it will be cool, from the posted event schedule. This is, of course, not a complete transcription. That would be redundant and mad. Or moreso.

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Funkaesthetics: 19th – 23rd, Hart House

Visual Art, Music, Film! And FREE!

Happily Queer After: All Week! And beyond, it seems, at Hart House
INTERACTIVE visual art! FREE!

Traveling Music: Mulatu Astatke & The Genesis of Ethio-Jazz: 19th
In a Walter Hall of some sort, in an Edward Johnson Building of some kind… oh wait, it’s a lecture. On music! And it’s still FREE!

Earth, Water, Wind and Fire:
20th, Walter and Edward again
5 bucks for students!

Open Dance Class: 20th, 27th:
At a complicated location you are better off checking the schedule for.
“Folk dance with Balkan emphasis!” FREE the first time, then 6 bucks.

You are better off checking the schedule for everything.

Ooh! The Shape of a Girl, and The Abridged Adventures of Ali and Ali in the aXes of Evil: 20th – 22nd
That sounds pretty bada- I mean… pretty… mal-derrière… Produced by those in DRM402.
EERF!

(GIANT GASP) Unearthed! Victoria ‘University’ Environmental FASHION SHOW! EEE!: 20th
Only two bucks!

Hart House Film Boar Screenings, and John Porter’s Super 8 in The Chapel: 21st – 23rd
Is that an appropriate place for a Super 8?!
eerf.

Yes. A film boar.**

Spring Wake Up!
21st
Fun stuffs for the childrens in the Hart House Great Hall!

Student Composers Concert: 22nd, 23rd

Influency: A Toronto Poetry Salon. 25th
I have always wanted to hold a salon… (suddenly realizes she has a theme for her birthday party next week.)

U of T Dance Festival! 27th, 28th
10 bucks for students!

UCDP Playwriting Student Showcase by DRM328:
3rd (of April)

UTSC is holding a Buddhist Film Series, and UTM has a crazy dance party thing. Curses!
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Why can’t you behave?!

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And there ends my list of everything I found intriguing. The list of events is much, much, much, longer. Please, go.

Maybe I’ll see you there. You won’t see me, of course. Ha ha.

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* I lied. I finished it at home.

** He’s not a boar.