Summer Centered: Aby Isakov '24 Pays Filmmaking Knowledge Forward
The visual studies major is assisting in the Bryn Mawr Film Institute’s filmmaking workshop by providing creative and technical advice.
Aby Isakov ‘24 has been using her love of filmmaking to help foster it in others. This summer, the visual studies major is assisting at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute’s six-week filmmaking workshop for high school students. Funded by the Hurford Center for Arts and Humanities, her self-designed internship includes introducing these students to the basics of filmmaking, narrative storytelling, and production.
The students spent the first three weeks of the program learning the basics of scriptwriting, lighting control, sound recording, the use of a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, and editing media. They used these techniques to come up with scripts for their own short films, as well as imagining how they would produce them. The last three weeks of the program were reserved for storyboarding and shooting the film at locations throughout Bryn Mawr.
As an assistant to the program’s director, Chris Fusco, Isakov has been instrumental in the program’s success. Her duties have ranged from introducing students to the film equipment, to helping them structure their stories and shots, to personally troubleshooting with Adobe Premiere as they edit their films.
“I am always there as a resource and helping hand for the students, whether that is helping them with the technical side of things or the creative process,” she said. A passionate filmmaker, Isakov has been involved in documentary filmmaking at Haverford since her first year. She, along with classmates from “Advanced Documentary Filmmaking,” won the Jury Award and the Audience Award at the annual Tri-Co Film Festival, also hosted at Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She was interested in expanding beyond that, however, and learning the ins and outs of narrative storytelling too.
“I always felt like I lacked the capacity to come up with a narrative that was not based in the documentary genre,” she said. “I think the workshop provided me with tools and a mode of thinking that I will carry forward with me. I might even try my hand at narrative storytelling and filmmaking in the future.”
Even more impactful than the desire to learn, however, was her desire to share her love of filmmaking with others. Her own passion for the field was nurtured by her Haverford experience–in particular, production courses taught by Vicky Funari, senior lecturer of visual studies. Isakov has even designed her own major to further hone in on her skills in media production and study the interrelationship between film, culture, and history through Haverford’s course offerings.
“I believe that anyone can be a filmmaker if they are interested in it through the encouragement and guidance of those experienced with filmmaking,” she said. “I love films and producing them, so it makes me happy knowing that another young filmmaker is falling in love with the craft as well.”
In addition to learning about narrative storytelling, Isakov has also embraced the opportunity to learn about teaching from Fusco too.
“For the filming process, Chris made each student try every role in the production for different scenes–with someone as director, cinematographer, lighting grip, sound mixer, editor, and actor,” she said. “It was great to see how he encouraged each student to fully embrace the role and also helped nourish and build their skills.”
Isakov hopes to embody that mindset of mutual trust as she helps the students cap off their summer of filmmaking study. She is glad that, though she is teaching the students, she is still able to learn from the experience.
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ campus-supported summer work.