Exploring classical literature
in first year Russian class is an ambitious goal. Making a film adaption of a
masterpiece proved to be not only an appealing activity to students, but also add a note of
comic relief to class work in first year course.
While students enjoy Chekov's language, style and message in the story "Boys", it took them a while to re-imagine Chekov's characters,
settings and actions taking place to make the script. Exploring the process of adaptation students consider the following questions: how faithful will the film version be to the original text, where will the story be set, what will be some of the film's highlights and what music might be used on the
soundtrack. In the process of writing the script students realized that the film adaptation is more about ideas
than events and had to consider how to make them dramatic for the screen. Storyboard was used as a tool to help the students focus
on the big ideas of a story and write
their script in sequence.The story snippets were combined
and interchanged to come up with refreshingly original ideas in the script.
Some changes were
inspired by a desire to make the original story interesting and applicable to a
contemporary audience. Also, in the story we come to know characters not
through what they say, but through what they are thinking or what is said about
them in the narration. The perfect solution was found when everyone agreed that
a narrator's perspective can be kept through the use of a voice-over "dog."
Finally the crew used the storyboard to turn it into a scene of less than five shots, paying particular
attention to the choice of costumes, set, and lighting. Once the project was completed, students noted that filming in classroom is interactive and personally rewarding in terms of advancing their
speaking, listening and writing skills.