Summer holidays are over and CIEE Prague has new group of students on site. James Cashman from Seattle University was kind enough to share his first video blog post - enjoy the student's view on his first days in Prague (orientation sessions and walks, Prague Castle Tour, welcome dinner and more!).
CIEE Prague programs offer plenty of trips and excursions, so we would like to focus this newsletter on these.
Central European Studies (CES)
CES academic trips are an inseparable part of the academic experience in Prague, as well as an inseparable part of the courses themselves. Each student has to go on at least 2 academic trips per semester. CIEE offers some 20 trips to various destinations, all accompanied by teaching faculty and CIEE staff and all carefully chosen to help the students better comprehend the course topics and to provide them as much cultural immersion opportunities as possible. We offer one-day trips as well as overnight trips and show the evidence of history, the communist legacy and the transformation of the Czech society into a democratic member of the EU with its current social and economic challenges. Students can also choose from a variety of cultural sites important to historical events, literature courses, art and architecture or even current environmental issues.
The trips provide students a unique opportunity to explore sites outside of Prague, such as concentration camps and historical Jewish ghettos, which are connected to history courses and Judaism, as well as to courses focusing on psychoanalysis – e.g., understanding Nazi propaganda and the cult of Hitler.Students also have a unique opportunity to have a deeper understanding of human rights, national identity and sociopolitical issues by visiting socially excluded localities and discussing it with local NGO and governmental representatives. In order to explore the communist past of the Czech Republic, students can visit and learn about the communist regime, the political persecution of that authoritarian regime by visiting former work camps with former political prisoners. Dealing with the outcomes of communist environmental policies, students learn about rural landscape changes. Last but not least, there are trips connected to a cultural immersive experience, where students have the chance to spend Easter in a village with a local family and to practice traditional (quite unique) Czech Easter customs.
Many trips and sites are so popular that they are run more than 4 times during the semester. A large number of students want to go to more destinations - beyond the CIEE academic mandatory requirement of taking part in 2 trips. Some trips maintain throughout semesters 100% positive feedbacks, and according to the students is one of the highlights of their experience in CIEE Prague’s program.
Film Studies (FS)
Despite of the fact that Film Studies students are especially busy throughout the semester, CIEE Prague believes that studying abroad is about outclass academic exploration as well. Therefore we offer a number of excursions and trips designed specifically for the FS program.
Barrandov Film Studios excursion
On Friday, February 14th, FS Coordinator Ivana took students for a tour to the famous Barrandov Film Studios. As every semester, students not only got to visit the props, furniture and costumes department, but also some representational premises for filmmakers, a stage set of Tudors show and postproduction labs were seen. Furthermore, we got access to two film ateliers with shooting in progress, so students had a blast taking pictures in a train where Donald Sutherland acted in Crossing Lines (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossing_Lines). As always, a yummy lunch was provided. But let us share student feedback from this excursion:
“Barrandov was truly amazing. It was so interesting and I felt like I learned a lot. I loved this excursion.”
“BEST TRIP EVER. The day was pretty exhausting, but overall it was a fantastic visit. It is a opportunity to visit the Barrandov Studios where such famous people have walked the halls. I liked the extra bit of tour that we got, thanks to Ivana. Hopefully I will be back there again one day making my own film! The lunch was fantastic, also.”
“I really enjoyed it! It was laid back enough so we could really soak it up, and we got to see a lot of the studios. The most interesting part was seeing the costumes and props. I also really, really appreciated the donuts given to us in the morning.”photo courtesy of Jonáš Klimeš
photo courtesy of Katie Ratcliffe
Hafan Animation Studio workshop
On Saturday and Sunday, March 1st-2nd, students split into 2 groups and each spent a whole day in Prague’s Hafan animation studio. They created traditional animated short film and had a blast!
photo courtesy of Beth Winchester
Video animation students made together in 2 days
Karel Zeman Museum of Special Effects
On Monday, March 24th, CIEE 2nd cultural workshop was planned. We decided to connect it with an excursion to Karel Zeman Museum of Special Effects (https://www.muzeumkarlazemana.cz/en) which students enjoyed immensely.
video courtesy of Andie Eikenberg on a Moon rose, photo courtesy of Katie Ratcliffe
After the excursion, we continued to Dobrá Trafika, an underground coffee place which looks like a simple news stand at first. Over a coffee/yummy milk shakes and cakes, academic, professional, social and interpersonal goals that students set for themselves during the orientation were discussed. And it was time for more fun too - students tested their knowledge of Greatest Czechs in a memory game and they all did quite good!
But hear it in their own words:
“Cool, interesting, creative excursion + great gift shop! Workshop was a nice activity - glad I knew more Czechs than I thought!“
„Very interesting and reminded me of a set on a George Méliès film.“
Overnight trip to Moravia - workshop in Olomouc, Palacký University, Audiovisual department
The weekend of March 28-30, FS Program Coordinator Ivana and Program Coordinator Eva took students on a weekend excursion to the Moravian Region. The trip started in the city of Olomouc, a UNESCO heritage site- a local guide gave us a tour of the city center. After a yummy lunch we continued to Palacký University to join local students in the Audiovisual Department for a student television workshop. Students were given a simply task: introduce the city. You can see the result here:
After the workshop, local students took CIEE Film Studies group to a local restaurant and they enjoyed an evening together, exploring the city independently.
Photo courtesy of John Kim
On Saturday, the whole group transfered to Uherské Hradiště, where a summer film festival is held annually. We checked in to Hotel Koníček, had lunch and continued to Vlčnov village, famous for its „Ride of the Kings“ (https://www.czechtourism.com/c/unesco-jizda-kralu/). After visiting a Home Distillery Museum (part of The Museum of Moravian Slovakia), we were invited to a local home by a Vlčnov family. Moravians are known for their hospitality and they truly confirmed this reputation of theirs. Mr. Mikulec told us about the Slivovitz distilling process and his wife surprised us with yummy Moravian kolatche and traditional Czech party sandwiches.
Photo courtesy of John Kim
After this unique experience, we return back to Uherské Hradiště. Students were given couple of hours of free time to explore on their own and we met again for dinner. The local wine cellar visit followed.
On Sunday morning, we had a last site to visit: Moravian Karst with Punkva caves and the deepest gorge in the Czech lands: Macocha. Students were quite excited particularly due to the short train ride followed by a boat ride in the underground caves.
Photo courtesy of John Kim
More information from students perspectives can be found in FS blog (https://study-abroad-blog-prague-fs.ciee.org/).
Communication, New Media + Journalism (CNMJ)
Overnight trip to Brno
During a beautiful spring weekend in March, CNMJ Program students headed to Brno and other spots in Moravia with Amanda, Communication Program Coordinator. Our goal was to learn more about the media landscape in the Czech Republic and all by meeting local students and attending the human rights documentary film festival, One World (insert link: https://www.oneworld.cz/2014/ ).
Once we arrived to Brno on Friday, we stopped by Radio R at Masaryk University, Department of Media Studies and Journalism. Radio R is a very successful student-run radio station with over 100 volunteer moderators. They broadcast a variety of original programs covering politics, alternative music, and cultural events in and around Brno. CNMJ students not only had a discussion with student broadcasters, but also got to broadcast live themselves!
After our exciting live radio stint, we continued on with Radio R students and with hungry bellies to Výtopna Restaurant. Students were told there would be a surprise there. Výtopna is special thanks to a mini train which brings restaurant-goers their drinks! Surprise!
Our evenings in Brno were dedicated to the One World Film Festival, which is put on by the non-profit People in Need (in fact, we have one CNMJ intern working in their Media Department this semester). On Friday we saw The Great Night (insert link: https://www.oneworld.cz/2014/films-a-z/25305-the-great-night), which won the award for Best Czech Documentary at Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival last year. On Saturday, we saw a much more light-hearted film called, Everything is Possible (insert trailer?) about an 80 year-old Polish woman who backpacks around the world.
On Saturday we decided to explore the Moravian countryside and hung out in the village of Velké Bílovice. With 800 hectares of vineyards, it makes up the largest wine territory in the Czech Republic. So naturally after lunch, we walked through the village, greeting locals in Czech on our way, and ended up at a family wine cellar. After a short crash course in the ways of wine tasting, students were given several local samples to taste.
Our last stop on Sunday before heading back to Prague was Moravian Karst (insert link: https://www.moravskykras.net/en/moravian-karst.html ). We enjoyed a tour of the caves, which included not only the impressive Macocha Abyss (the largest such gorge in Central Europe), but also a boat ride through the last part of the caves.
Students had a great time! For more on this trip from a student’s perspective, please visit our CNMJ blog:
The very first academic trip for the Global AD program was planned to be only a few weeks after the student’s arrival so they could bond and get to know Adam Vukmanov, the ARCHIP Academic Coordinator, Petra, the CIEE Global AD Coordinator and other members of the ARCHIP faculty while traveling through beautiful sites of central and southern Bohemia.
The plan was to follow Vltava river cascades, starting at Lipno, which is very important hydro power plant built to protect the UNESCO site Český Krumlov and other towns and villages nearby from floods; we stayed atHluboká nad Vltavou, a beautiful little town close to Lipno and continued on the next day with touring 3 other dams – Hněvkovice, Orlík and Slapy.
Global AD program connects 3 European cities – Barcelona, Berlin and Prague. Students from all three cities were invited to participate in the Berlin Summit and aside from many other interesting things, to present what they have been working on so far. From March 26 to March 28, CIEE Berlin hosted students from Prague and Barcelona. It was a huge success and students left more educated, connected and satisfied with their achievements. Which city will host next? :)
On April 10, during the academic workshop lead by Alessio Erioli, an engineer and senior researcher at Università di Bologna, Petra took the group to a traditional Czech restaurant for a second cultural workshop. Alessio joined them as well. Aside from the amazing food and drinks, they all tested their knowleadge of Czech culture, especially what they knew of famous Czech people. Well, they still have a bit to learn. :)
Construction Site Visit
On April 11, the students, Adam and Petra visited basic construction sites in Prague that were in different stages of the process. It was a lot of fun and not only because we got to wear hard hats. We got a chance to see how different designing and building is in the Czech Republic and learn a lot about the specific constructions from top to bottom. Both were office buildings built by different companies.
I’ll try and keep this short, but I realize I haven’t given too many updates about Prague recently. In fact, for quite a while… I apologize, and I hope to be a bit more on top of it in the future!
Man, this is going back far, but I want to talk about it: about three weeks ago now we had a guided tour of a smaller town an hour and a half outside of Prague called Kutna Hora. While there we walked around it’s ancient medieval streets, visited a cathedral, and went to a place called the Sedlec Ossuary, otherwise known as the bone church. It has tens of thousands of humans represented in their femurs and skulls, all artfully arranged in a macabre yet hauntingly beautiful way. I actually touched a human skull. You’d think there would be some weight, some depth to such an action, but it was primarily cold. That’s not entirely honest; it was pretty eerie and felt somehow taboo. But it was also so irresistibly compelling. There aren’t many, if any, other opportunities to do that in life. God I sound creepy right now. But I think it has something to do with abjection; we’re simultaneously repulsed and attracted by things that are so deeply engrained as wrong, supposedly. I don’t find that to be true with most things, but maybe that’s what was at work when I decided to touch it. Also, when I say touch, I literally just put my finger on it for a split second. So nothing creepy. Anyway, moving on!
The timeline is so muddled from being so busy, but at some point, me, Andie, and John went on a night adventure to Petrin Tower, the Eiffel Tower replica on top of Petrin Hill. We ended up walking down through the park since the view of Prague at night was so exquisite. Another night we went to the ballet Swan Lake at the National theater, Narodni Divadlo. It was my first professional ballet. I can certainly acknowledge and appreciate talet and skill, which I did, but I think ballet may take some getting used to. But it was fun to dress up with everyone!
Gosh, sorry this is such an abbreviated version. A couple weekends ago we went hiking at Sarka preserve, at the very end of one of the tram lines. It was a really beautiful hilly, wooded area, with large exposed rock outcrops. It was so ridiculously rejuvenating to go hiking and breathe some fresh wilderness air. I needed that after so much city life. I love city life, but it’s not for me in the long run, I can tell you that now. At least big cities far from the outdoors. But it’s so nice being here right now and truly getting to experience it for the first time.
We also got out of the city a bit last weekend. We went to the outskirts for a tour of Barrandov Film Studios with the program. The film Amadeus was shot there, as well as on location in Prague. We got to tour their costume department in addition to seeing the sound stages and some behind the scenes buildings as well, such as the film developing lab where our own films will be developed at the end of the program. There was also an entire outdoor set for St Peters Square in Rome for the European version of the Borgias. It was actually so crazy impressive and looked and felt so real. It was a very cool experience, but having been to the Warner Bros studio tour this summer it was sort of hard to compare having seen such a top notch rich studio. Barrandov is very clearly leftover from Soviet Rule, with big, imposing modernist buildings. It felt very serious.
The next day was the best cultural experience to date. We went to Masopust, the Czech pre-lent celebration equivalent to Carneval or Mardi Gras, in a village just outside the city. It felt so medieval, with people in crazy, elaborate, quirky costumes milling about. There were beers, sausages, potato pancakes, and so much other mouthwatering food being made all over the square. There were so many dogs (tangent time! Czech dogs are said to be more like people than most dogs, and they are by far the smartest, best behaved animals I’ve ever encountered. Teachers bring their dogs to class, dogs walk unleashed everywhere, and they never ever misbehave. It’s incredible and I have no idea how they do it.). I was there with some of my group, our Czech buddy (who, like many, is actually Slovakian) and his new girlfriend, who he met through our group actually, and the girls who she’s the buddy for, also in CIEE, though in the journalism program. Sorry, that was the worst sentence I’ve ever written probably. I’m keeping it though. Anyways, a few of us bought masks to fit in better and get a souvenir. There were performances, and then, all of the sudden, the entire place started emptying out. Part of the celebration is actually moving from village to village as one huge mass, where everyone gets to be part of the parade. It was just unbelievably cool to be a part of. It was so authentically Czech, and the atmosphere was impossible to describe besides maybe joyous. Everyone was just enjoying themselves, and there was a lot of drinking going on. Perhaps the most memorable part though was when a girl whose costume somehow made her appear to be riding an ostrich quite convincingly approached us (no, I was not drinking heavily, it was a weird and very well done costume.). She came up to us, and in Czech-accented English said: “Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day, you should give a heart to someone!” She opened her hand and there was an actual heart in it, though what creature it belonged to I couldn’t say. Then: “Or maybe you would like a bigger one! It’s good luck!” Out of her costume came a plastic cup that, sure enough, had a slightly larger but no less real heart. Needless to say, we did not accept her offer and she galavanted off on her ostrich. It’s going to be hard to beat the feeling and authenticity of Masopust, honestly, but it made me even more excited to explore Czech culture. That said, Berlin made me realize how much touristy stuff we’ve yet to do in Prague. I haven’t even been to a museum yet! That’s absolutely going to change soon. I know I can’t do everything, but I can sure try to do as much as possible! Obviously I’m still taking care of myself, but my motto while here has become “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I don’t want to waste a moment.
Speaking of sleep, I sure don’t get a lot on weekends! Don’t worry, my concerned adult readers, I’m not going crazy! But I have had a couple noteworthy adventures, particularly one night when I ended up with a group of young adults from Vienna and went to the 5-Story Club, “the largest club in Central Europe!” While the experience was surreal, hilarious, and thoroughly entertaining, the club wasn’t great and I left after only a short visit. Another night I wound up in a club that’s in a boat on the Vltava, appropriately named Boat Club. It was much more authentic and local, and the river at night was very peaceful and beautiful. I do love adventures.
Classes are also going incredibly well. We’ve had two weeks now, and I love them all. The core classes are very practical and engaging, and provide an excellent supplement to my education at Whitman. The electives are really fun. In Script Analysis, we watch a movie one week and the next watch it again with the teacher’s commentary, and he’s super funny and insightful. Plus we get to watch some awesome, classic movies, and a fair amount of Czech movies! I haven’t had a Realm of Montage class yet as they’ve both been cancelled, which is a bit unnerving, but our professor is also our editing professor, whose class is one of the better core classes. Honestly though, most of the classes feel like carbon copies; editing, directing, screenwriting.. We basically just watch short movies and clips and analyze them in a pretty general way that doesn’t seem to apply super directly to the specific discipline being taught. They’re all fun, but it’s not always the most applicable lesson to what we’re going to end up doing. Sound also follows that format, but our professor is absolutely hilarious and on point, and is an excellent teacher. He doesn’t have a problem with specificity like the other classes. Plus he plays awesome clips… Acting is sort of hit or miss, and we’ve done some really good and not so good exercises with it. Our film language teacher is quite roundabout, but actually an incredible storyteller. Cinematography is pure information, and lots of it. Screenwriting is actually pretty great, and our professor is really really cool. We’re working on our stories now, and we pitch them this Friday to the school’s faculty. I’m in a group co-directing with my friend Beth, and my friend Katie is the director of photography. We’re working very well together thus far, and we’re really excited about our idea! I won’t give away what our story is, but if it passes the pitch, I’ll give a hint. Oh, and the final class I’m taking is Introduction to Producing, which is a super practical, business and creative approach to producing. Sounds kind of boring by that description.. But actually, after one class I think it’s already my favorite. The prof is HILARIOUS yet deadpan, teaches really straightforwardly, and is constantly throwing in life advice to his lessons. Also, he gave us a scenario where his “best way” to approach a situation ended up dancing on the tables drunk. So he’s pretty cool. Oh, and also really professional and experienced! People have actually used his final project, an entire plan for a movie that can be real or fake, to procure funding for (documentary) projects they wanted to make and made them. So that’s actually really really exciting that it’s so real-world and practical. It’s going to be invaluable I think. Oh, also, he told us totally seriously that you need to account for bribes for shooting in third world countries but can’t put it in the budget, otherwise you can’t get anything done. So that was an interesting tidbit!
In my free time I’ve been running up Petrin and going to the gym (rarely, let’s be honest..), and watching a lot of movies to attempt to better participate in conversations with my friends, who are all so much better versed in directors and movies of all sorts than I. So I’ve seen three Coen Brothers films since I’ve been here, as well as Nymphomaniac, the new (and my first) Lars Von Trier movie. It was very thought provoking, and no doubt provided tons of deep conversation (not that I’ll ever talk to anyone not my own age about it, given the nature it’s title suggests..). Which I really do enjoy participating in, so it’s actually pretty nice to have this peer pressure push to finally watch all the movies I know I should watch. I’m going to try and watch all the best picture nominees in the next few weeks, though I’m really not that far off already. There’s so much to do! Life is busy! Life is great!
I’ve also realized why people love Prague, I think! I mean, it’s cheap and easy to get around, yes, but why do people think it’s the most beautiful city in Europe? My hypothesis is that it’s because it’s totally medieval. Until my trip to Berlin I had no point of comparison, but I see now: if most European cities are like Berlin in this regard, then they don’t have so entirely ancient buildings and streets. Prague is seriously almost all that way, so it really does feel so old and authentic. Which it is, as it was largely untouched in the war. I guess I knew that, but only with a point of comparison did I fully comprehend what made it so much prettier (arguably). Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m generalizing, or maybe that should have been obvious all along, but that’s just a recent insight I had while in the “medieval” part of Berlin. I guess further exploration of European cities will yield more explanations. (For some reason that seriously pulled me out of the here and now just now and I had a huge “Whoa. I’m in Europe for the first time ever. This is amazing and hard to believe” moment…)
Last night, two friends and I went out for tea at a nearby upscale cafe. Then, we decided out of the blue to go explore and find someplace new. About half an hour later, after a metro and a tram, we stood at Petrin Tower, a replica of the Eiffel Tower that is the height of the Eiffel due to the hill it stands on. The view overlooking Prague was incredible, the company was great, and the experience reiterated how awesome it is to live in a city with such amazing public transit. We ended up walking down the hill to our apartment through a large park that I had run in before. It’s much prettier at night. There are so many sights to see, so many incredible places to go in Prague, that it sometimes feels a little overwhelming. We’ve seen the super famous places already, and had a few days there where no one was particularly thrilled with doing more sightseeing. To be fair, when we’re not go-go-go all the time it better allows us to become more familiarized with our immediate area. But I hope never to become complacent about going out and finding a new place. We’re lucky enough to be at the center of the city, and the heart of a lot of tourist activities (maybe not so lucky?). Now, then, is the time to branch out and find new places, explore off the beaten path. I want to do and see as much as I can here, and that won’t be accomplished by sitting in my apartment all semester, that’s for sure.
We’re halfway through our second week of classes. If you spoke to me in Czech now, I could at least ask you to repeat yourself and speak slowly! A lot of what we learn is super practical, like how to order and how to ask for directions. Yesterday, in fact, our instructor, a very cool, funny guy named Ludek, took us on a trip but made us ask for directions from strangers (our ultimate destination was a super small, yet very cool, hole in the wall art gallery/movie theater where we watched a short animated film called “Mean Barbara”). Asking strangers was pretty intimidating at first. I said “excuse me” in Czech to a lady, who glanced and kept walking as I half-heartedly said “don’t you know…” I think she realized I wasn’t selling anything, and she stopped, smiled, and very patiently not only corrected my pronunciation but spoke incredibly slowly. She knew we were American but resisted speaking in English, and helped my partner and I work through the directions. I was vaguely dumbfounded to experience something extremely similar in the next woman we asked. It felt as though Ludek had found all these strangers and asked them to only speak simple Czech to us, since we’re learning. The two women we talked to were so nice and open, despite an immediate exterior that didn’t exactly make you think “warmhearted.” I forget where, but in one of my program’s pre-orientation materials there was the line “We smile little but love lots,” and that is proving itself to be true. The Czechs we’ve met are so kind. Even the waiter at the Kavarna (coffee shop) I went to with the two friends recognized us (it’s a delicious lunch joint), and gave my friend Andie a piece of free cake for “speaking such lovely Czech.”
When we first got here, and everything was so new and overwhelming, speaking Czech and making Czech friends seemed impossible and honestly, scary and undesirable. I thought I would be fine and comfortable with staying in an American bubble with my new friends. That’s just not true anymore. I think because I’m comfortable with my American friends, now I can branch out. I decided yesterday, for the first time, that there’s the potential to actually speak conversational Czech if I try hard enough. I can make Czech friends, perhaps, and learn about their culture not only from the outside looking in. So that’s a new goal. To get out there, meet new people from a new culture, and learn Czech as best I can. Which, admittedly, still won’t be very good I think. It’s a very difficult language. But if in two weeks we’ve learned the past, future, and present tenses, as well as countless (seriously, I’ve forgotten most) practical phrases, then there’s a chance for at least simple conversations.
A couple other things of note: the “big program” as it’s called has been here for about a week now. Central European Studies, through CIEE, is about 200 kids and they live pretty spread out over the city in dorms, apartments, and home-stays. It’s pretty cool to meet kids from different parts of the US and from different kinds of schools, but it’s also really nice to see friends from Whitman. I’ve gone out to dinner twice now with them, and it’s very nice to catch up with familiar faces.
Additionally, the film component of our program has started, technically. We’re taking “screenwriting” classes this week, which is to say, brainstorming exercises to help get ideas flowing for a pitch this Friday. We’re supposed to have some sort of story idea to help determine the best group possibilities for our projects. We can have two or three person groups, who will subsequently write a script throughout the semester and then work as a director (or co-director) and director of photography to make the film come to fruition. It’s the early stages, but I definitely need to spend a few hours just brainstorming ideas, because at the moment I’m unsure of what I want to make. Regardless, the semester is shaping up to be intense and incredible; I can barely imagine the feeling of satisfaction that comes from seeing the filmic culmination of a semester of hard work and emotional investment. I’ve done shorter projects, but nothing so lengthy or intimate: the writing and rewriting with just one or two other people will make that script a baby, practically. Furthermore, I’ve signed up for elective classes, which will supplement the film-program specific core classes. I’m going to be taking Script Analysis 1 & 2, where we watch movies and analyze their scripts with the dean of FAMU, Visual Theory 1, an analysis of visual artifacts (photos, films), and then Intro to International TV/Film Producing, a practical course about what a producer does and how they do it. I’m particularly excited about the last one, since it’s so unlike anything I’ve done before, but they’re all very intriguing and cool classes. It’s shaping up to be a very, very good semester.
Fall 2013 Film Studies semester is over and students are on their way home to reunite with their friends and families. The upcoming holidays are making their process of leaving the city of Prague and their wonderful study abroad experiences a little bit more bearable. It needs to be said that we had a very good group that stuck together at all times this semester - and their screenplays and final films reflected that. But how did they spend their last weeks in Prague?
Production and post-production
Production track dedicated their last weeks primarily to production and postproduction. Film Program Coordinator Ivana occasionally paid a visit to their sets to make sure everything was in order. Production managers Pavla Klimešová and Filip Teller and Camera Supervisor Tomáš Daliman made sure that all 5 shoots went smoothly. A couple of shooting days needed to be rescheduled due to weather, but students and their crews were flexible and everything ended well.
Photo courtesy of EJ Kennelly
We already shared Laurel Schwartz's (Scripps College) video about her shoot on CIEE FS blog, however, we want to make sure you don't miss it:
Screenwriting track: presentation rehearsals
All students enrolled in the Screenwriting track helped on the Production track film sets (as grips, caterers and actors), but of course they have been busy with their screenplays as well. All 4 students are quite ambitious, so during their regular Tuesday sessions with their FAMU Academic Advisor Mary, they came up with their screenplays introductions as well as short dialogues presented by actors. Therefore they experienced directing real actors during these meetings.
Last CIEE Cultural Workshop
Our last cultural workshop took place at the CIEE Study Center. Students started part of their orientation there and we thought it would be a nice wrap up for them. Over a late lunch, students, Ivana and Eva discussed reverse culture shock and ended the workshop with Greatest Czechs matching game which became quite competitive. Just before the sunset, we took a group picture together:
CIEE Christmas party
Just like every Fall semester, CIEE Study Center hosted all programs get-together Christmas party. Students had a chance to taste traditional Czech Christmas specialities (fish soup, fried carp, potato salad, baked groats with mushroom "Kuba", sweat bread "Vánočka" and indispensable Christmas cookies)! They also experienced local Christmas customs, such as gingerbread baking and decorating, Christmas decorations creating, nutshell mini-boats creating, and much more. Of course not even a Christmas tree wasn't missing and all students found a small gift from Baby Jesus underneath it (CIEE got them Christmas ceramic decorations created in workshops for people with disabilities so local NGO Jedlička Institute - where CIEE Prague CES students volunteer - was supported). All students had a blast!
Final Screenplays presentation and Final Screening
Thursday, December 19th was a big day. At 2pm, Screenwriting track students (Jamie, Nicole, Alex and Edan) started with their screenplays presentations. Their rehearsals truly paid off and full projection room appreciated their work. They also received feedback from the audience. The actors (DAMU and CIEE students) they managed to find were extraordinary and made their dialogues quite lively. We would like to congratulate them all for their progress!
At 4pm, projection of Production track final films followed. The audience consisted of FAMU professors and staff, CIEE students and staff, actors and special guests got to enjoy 5 films plus a bonus - Hafan classic animation workshop outcome. Students were provided with feedback by their professors and a big (deserved) applause from everyone present.
CIEE FS Farewell Dinner
After the screening, everyone continued on to FAMU student club and pub Lažanských for the farewell ceremony and dinner. All students received their FAMU certificates and final films, CIEE added another CD with Prague Yearbook and a special Film Studies video with a slideshow from the whole semester. FS Academic Advisor Mary Angiollilo and FAMU dean Pavel Jech gave their final speeches, winners of the green game were announced, and most immersed and volunteering students were acknowledged.
The yummy reception with traditional Czech dishes followed. Students said their goodbyes to their professors, crews and staff, and even a few tears had been shed. It has been a great semester!
CIEE staff wishes you HAPPY HOLIDAYS and we will be back with CIEE Prague programs newsletter in Spring 2014!
I am currently studying abroad at the Film and Media University of the Academy of the Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague, Czech Republic. As part of the CIEE Film Studies program, we work in groups of 2 or 3 to write, shoot and edit a feature short film on 16 mm film. It was one of the funnest experiences of my life. I want to do it over and over again. Thank you to everyone at CIEE and FAMU who made it possible. And, thank you to my wonderful friends who made the experience so enjoyable.
GREETINGS FROM THE CITY OF A HUNDRED SPIRES - PRAGUE!
The Fall 2013 Film Studies semester is half way through and we are back with some updates on what CIEE students accomplished thus far.
Some of you may have read about their academic overnight trip to Bohemia in a student blog, but we want to make sure that the others won't miss it:
CIEE Academic Overnight trip to Bohemia
The weekend of October 4-6th, Film Studies students went to the Bohemia region to attend Písek International Student Film Festival and enjoy a nice hike to Castle Kašperk. We believe that pictures are often better than words, so now you will be able see for yourselves how much fun they had. Laurel Schwartz (Scripps College) was kind enough to share her videoblog with us:
CIEE Halloween party
On Wednesday, October 30th, CIEE Study Center Prague organized their first Halloween party. All Prague programs were invited and Czech buddies helped with the organization. And the evening was a blast - best student and Czech buddy Halloween costume was announced (and awarded), everyone got a chance to taste various kinds of trick or treat candy, jack 'o' lanterns made by students during the interest group activity decorated the premises and everyone had fun!
Flat buddy organized activities
Flat buddies planned some more cool immersive activities since you got our last newsletter! Students are always excited for cooking lessons, art & film festivals and exhibitions, but one of the most interesting events was probably a tour of Prague given by local homeless men, Karim and Emil (see the picture below) which is organized by Pragulic Organization. Seeing the city through their eyes was truly interesting for all students.
photo courtesy of Chelsea Steeb
CIEE Open mic night (all CIEE Prague programs get-together)
On Tuesday, November 12th, students from all three CIEE programs (FS, CES, CNMJ) enjoyed a get-together event with CIEE staff and buddies: the legendary OPEN MIC NIGHT! Participation was amazing (more than 70 people came) and we had 9 outstanding performances + free karaoke at the end. There was a good variety of performances, so we enjoyed singing, musical instruments playing, poetry and even folklore dance! One of the best performers was Edan Laniado from the Film Studies program who played the piano and sang few of his own songs.
Screenwriting track pitch
We have reached the second half of the semester, so on Wednesday, November 13th, FS Academic Advisor Mary invited FAMU screenwriting professors Jan Fleischer and Pavel Jech and directing professor Asmara Marek to the Screenwriting track pitch. CIEE FS Program coordinator and Production track students also joined this event. Nicole, Alex, Jamie, and Edan introduced their screenplays and received some useful feedback on how to make their characters livelier, along with other various tips for improvement. All stories pitched were quite interesting and FAMU mentors seemed happy with students' progress. We can't wait for the final screenplay presentations on the final day - it still remains to be decided whether authors introduce their screenplays or ask actors to rehearse a couple of their dialogues (and learn how to direct them in the meantime).
Production track: preproduction
Students enrolled in the Production track have also been busy lately. The last two weeks were dedicated to locations scouting, casting, meetings with mentors and production managers and other preparations. Friday and Saturday, November 15-16, were dedicated to the camera orientation when students got their hands on the 16mm film equipment. And on Sunday, they started making their 7-10' films - so let's keep our fingers crossed for them!
The weekend of October 4-6th, Film Studies students went to Bohemia region to attend Písek international student film festival and enjoy a nice hike to the castle of Kašperk. We believe that pictures are often better then words, so now you will be able see for yourselves how much fun they had. Laurel Schwartz (Scripps College) shared her videoblog with us:
Even though the S13 semester has come to its end, we have another blog entry for you! Naomi Bullock shared her experiences with making old-school style animation along with other FS students with us.
Wood Is The New Black
by Naomi Bullock, Beloit College
Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
Tiny hands, tiny feet, and tiny outfits to match: this is Hafan Studios. Here is where mini magic is created. With each handmade puppet running near 500 dollars, these delicate but amazing dolls are wholly unique each evoking a different emotion from it's bizarre facial construction. The studio's artwork feels like it pays small homage to the work of Tim Burton with it's characters straddling intrigue and fear: there's a lot going on in the dead stare eyes and sometimes it feels like one is looking at you on its own. My group and I had the privilege to learn from some renowned animators, work towards completing a short, and see their newest project which will hit theaters in a few years. Just a note for those who cannot fathom the patience and effort that goes into creating a feature puppet animated film: one shot, is shot twice, and 25 shots (remember x2) make one second, 60 of those seconds in a minute (were at 3000 shots, 1500 little movements) and then a feature will run about 80 to 100 minutes. You do the math. These are artists, creators, and traditionalists with the patience and skill of breathing life into wood.
If you want to have a look at their work, here you go.
A few weeks ago, my 9-person film program went to Moravia, another region of the Czech Republic, along with 5 communications and new media students in CIEE. It was refreshing to interact with a few new faces, who all were pretty interesting. Moravia consists of most of Eastern Czech Republic, containing the second largest city in the country, Brno. We visited the third largest city, Olomouc, known for its rich culture in the arts, whose population largely consists of students. We had lunch with local film/media/journalism students and visited their school, a renovated beautiful chapel that nobody would mind to have class in. In the Czech Republic, 5 years of high school is completed before going on to a 3-year bachelor's program. Subsequently, it is very common for most students to realize their master's degree in two years. At the time of our visit, the students were preparing for a large science and educational film festival, Academia Film Olomouc, which is held in the city every April.
At the top of the Bata Skyscraper
The next day we traveled to Zlín, a city built by Tomáš Bata, the "Henry Ford of Eastern Europe," except with shoes and accessories. He began Bata Shoe Organization in August of 1894, progressively built the company, and worked to modernize the city throughout his lifetime. He became the mayor of Zlín and did an immense amount of urban development. The company became the largest shoe retailer in the world in the 1930s and still exists today. We went to the Bata Skyscraper, one of the first high risers in Europe and the second tallest at its time of creation. It functioned as the company's administrative headquarters, and now acts as the city's headquarters. We also went to the Tomas Bata University, saw some student films, and met with one of the students, Tereza. I asked her if the students shot on film, digital, or both; she responded by saying, "only digital; it would be a dream to shoot on film," something every FAMU student gets to partake in during their bachelor's program.
View of Zlín from the top of the skyscraper
Probably everyone's favorite part of the trip was wine tasting in Uherské Hradište within a local's wine cellar in his own home. Moravia has been known for its wine, especially white, since 3rd century AD and is still appreciated today. Both the wine and the extreme hospitality of this family was amazing.
The last day of the trip we went to the Moravsky Kras (Moravian Karst) region and explored caves carved by prolonged water abrasions. I felt like we were in The Goonies, but they were really beautiful and it was revitalizing to be in nature again.