Lights, camera, action: RTVF students take film to Prague

With a long history of filmmaking and some of the best film schools in the world, Prague, Czech Republic, has become a popular study-abroad destination among Northwestern students majoring in Radio, Television and Film.

Communication juniors Goldie Beck and Lynne Park said they decided to study in Prague after speaking with upperclassmen who had just returned from Prague Film School.

At NU, you need to be very “entrepreneurial” to make films, putting in extra time on the weekends to work on film sets, said Beck.

“(NU has) an amazing communication program, but you need to guide yourself, and that’s how it is in the real world too,” Beck said.

But, studying at a conservatory like Prague Film School allows students to focus solely on film, rather than balancing their passion with homework and other classes.

A typical day at Prague Film School involves two-hour blocks of cinematography, editing class, learning equipment, directing and electives. Beck said this trains students to garner experience maneuvering every part of a film set.

“Prague Film School, because it trains you in literally every specialization in film, it makes you appreciate everything that goes into the making of a film,” Park said.

Prague is also home to leading production facilities and equipment, which students studying film can use, said Beck. She said it’s been amazing not only to learn fundamentals of film but also to practice using equipment she couldn’t have otherwise.

“We’re using industry standards. We’re learning this program called Avid, we’re using Arri cameras, Blackmagics, equipment we don’t necessarily have access to at Northwestern,” Beck said.

In addition, each Prague Film School student writes, directs and edits four projects of their own and works on around 15 other students’ sets, Park said. The program doesn’t allow much room for travel due to the intense workload.

Communication junior Tanner Flood chose to study at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, also known as FAMU. Flood said he was drawn to this program because it allowed him more time to travel around Europe.

In the professional world, Prague is often a film destination because of its versatile architecture, which allows it to serve as a stand-in set for many European cities.

“It just comes off to Americans as an undefined European city,” Flood said. “People come here because you can film a movie that takes place in three cities all in Prague, and it’s relatively cheap to do so.”

It’s been Moscow in “Hellboy,” Warsaw in “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and a German town in “Jojo Rabbit.” Flood said he’s also seen movies where Prague is Vienna, Munich and even Miami.

Flood said being in a foreign country inspires him to have his camera out even without an assignment.

“Film can be a really intimate way to get to know a place,” Flood said. “That’s one of my favorite things about doing film classes here … you can really get to know the city by creating something.”



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