From January to February 2017, Weengushk Film Institute had the pleasure of welcoming cinematographer, Mark Irwin, A.S.C., C.S.C. to Manitoulin Island to instruct and mentor the WFI Lab 1: Certificate in Film Production students.
Mark Irwin is widely known for collaborating with a number of directors, including David Cronenberg, Wes Craven and the Farrelly Brothers. Mr. Irwin was on-set for a number of WFI student films providing instruction and guidance to WFI students.
WFI was able to speak to Mark Irwin of his experience over the winter months.
WFI: What has your experience at Weengushk Film Institute been like so far?
Mark Irwin: My experience at Weengushk Film Institute began with eight (8) students of ages and experience, each unknown to me at the time. I had read all of their director's visions and screenplays and now have met them as first-time directors for those projects.
As a professional cinematographer, I was given the task of teaching them [the students] about my craft and how to apply it to their job of telling stories with pictures.
After in-class instruction and a number of screenings, we began shooting the first project of eight and my involvement changed. Instead of theory and tests, I could now guide the actual lighting, framing and coverage of the stories that they had written. This is the essence of education - lessons in life, trial by fire, being thrown into the deep end - all metaphors for learning by doing.
I learned the strengths and weaknesses of each student as they changed roles from film to film and could gauge their skills and artistic temperament in each category. It was a very illuminating experience to watch students from classroom to set. The best way to judge any filmmaker, but especially young and experimental minds.
WFI: What are your thoughts on the programs at Weengushk Film Institute? What do you think WFI hopes to achieve?
MI: Weengushk has given itself a grand task of teaching, training, producing and completing cinematic journeys for a huge range of ages and ambitions.
I believe that their mission is to ultimately create graduates who can enter the professional film world with a broad but also detailed knowledge of the skills and experiences that can allow them to find a future for themselves.
The great unknown, from my firsthand experience, is how to corral the variety of talents and stories and weaknesses into a cohesive educational experience.