With this demonstration/experiment I hope to provide a concrete example of how movies can be used as a springboard for personal learning and exploration, as well as a means to connect folks with similar interests and pursuits.

For this experiment I’m looking for a dozen or so committed students who will gather at the Manitou Movie School for a viewing of Richard Linklater’s 2001 film Waking Life (showings are Sept. 12 & 26, 8pm). After viewing the film, students leave with the following four assignments in hand, of which ONLY ONE need be done (student’s choice): 

1.Write 100-200 words explaining the possible meaning of Linklater’s film or what you feel the movie is saying. Alternatively, interpret Linklater’s personal appearances in the film and his relation/significance with the film’s main character.

2.Do a 300-600 word analysis or evaluation of any aspect of the film that you find personally interesting or compelling, whether it involves the film’s content or its making. Here are a few examples of the infinite directions one might go with this assignment: Pick one particular character in the film and discuss the idea or problem that he/she is expounding. Describe how the images of this film were created, or how the artwork reflects character outlook/persona. Discuss what inspired Linklater to make this film, or describe the process he used to make it. Compare this film with others like it, or explain why you think this film is completely unique.

3.In a manner similar to Waking Life, draw a character of your own creation and, in one to three panel drawings, express his/her perspective or basic life philosophy. Students may work in pairs for this assignment.

4.Create any project you wish following the basic idea and spirit of Waking Life. Such projects may include short videos/films/animations, brief stage plays or performances, musical compositions, etc. Students may work in pairs/groups for more ambitious projects.

In addition to the movie school viewing, students may watch Waking Life on their own as much as desired to complete their assignment. Further research into the film, including watching extra features or listening to commentaries is also permitted. Also, those wishing to participate in the experiment but unable to attend one of the scheduled viewings may watch the film and complete an assignment on their own. All assignments are to be turned-in by October 10. 

Once all assignments are collected, results will be discussed and shared in some appropriate manner to be determined. Importantly, there will be no formal grading or assessment of these assignments. The point of this experiment is to demonstrate cinema-based education, promote connection, fire some neurons, provoke creative play, and open ourselves to the unexpected opportunities that such endeavors typically produce.

Lastly, while I think participation would benefit most everyone, I would especially encourage college students from all disciplines to take-on this challenge. This is after all the primary audience to whom I've geared cinema-based education.
Waking Life Experiment