On May 17th of 2011, students presented silent film productions with live sound performances at the Sushi Performance Art Center in downtown San Diego. Each student group adapted a short story (by classic and contemporary authors) into a 5 minute film. The films screened were completely silent; all live sound came from the students’ performances of original scores, Foley work and turntable mixes.

In groups of 4-5 members, students were asked to direct, edit, tape and design films that delivered audiences a truly cinematic experience. Once the silent films were shot and completed, student groups were then asked to develop into a live sound design and music performance group. Their goal was to bring their stories to life through strategic audio choices. For many students, the equipment, software and media approaches were brand new to their learning experiences.


Do several weeks of in class short story readings. Next, discuss these stories in depth, assess their viability to adapt to film and commit to produce one.


Dissect your group’s story via character, prop, set and action analysis. Reproduce in print and power point with accurate photography of proposed actors, locations and graphic intertitles. Present to the class for critique.


Shoot your film, edit your roughs and present to the class for written critiques/discussions. Repeat this process several times until your group produces its best visual work which articulates your story into a well done production.


Now that your film is shot, develop a stable sound design system where each member has a role to perform.  Once you figure out some rough ideas, rehearse and develop while watching your film as much as possible. At first experiment with your sound ideas; they will eventually grow into full fledged compositions. Record your rehearsals, review the sound, take notes and revise. Finally, rehearse in front of audiences to get used to the experience of live performances in front of the public. Click here for ideas on how to arrange your group’s sound design.



Professionally present the films and performances to an audience. Submit press releases to your local newspapers, print event programs and hand out invitations two weeks prior to the presentation. Break the event into acts and offer refreshments at intermission.

Click here to watch the silent films produced for this event

Click here to watch the silent films produced for this event

Click here to watch the silent films produced for this event

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