Eighth grade film and TV elective captures ‘lighthearted spirit’ of middle school through broadcast

Shayla+Covington+%2826%29+films+Julia+Ong+%2826%29+and+Skylar+Roberts+%2826%29+posing+in+the+lighting+studio.+On+Nov.+17%2C+they+filmed+their+cooking+show+segment+Flop+Chef+for+the+middle+school+broadcast.

Photo credit: Saskia Sommer

Shayla Covington (’26) films Julia Ong (’26) and Skylar Roberts (’26) posing in the lighting studio. On Nov. 17, they filmed their cooking show segment “Flop Chef” for the middle school broadcast.

By Audrey Chang , Staff Reporter

The eighth grade film and TV elective is made up of 10 students who, every year, produce the middle school broadcast. The broadcast highlights the “spirited energy” of Archer’s middle school and their connection as a whole.

The middle school broadcast is a hands-on project where students learn about all aspects of filmmaking including script writing, filming and editing. The class shared their first broadcast of the 2021-2022 school year, a Halloween special, on Oct. 29, with the entire middle school. Now, students are working on their next broadcast for the semester, which they’re planning to air the week before winter break.

“[Working on the broadcast has] been a very collaborative effort,” eighth grader Saskia Sommer said. “I’ve really enjoyed the way that everybody is able to express themselves and take leadership in the middle school broadcast and in film and TV.”

In addition to the eighth grade film and TV class, arts teacher Steven Jacobson teaches sixth grade film and improv, seventh grade video art and intro, intermediate and advanced filmmaking. During remote learning, it was difficult for the film and TV students to create the middle school broadcast online, Jacobson said, because of the emphasis of group work and significant engagement needed from members of the community.

“It’s an interesting process because students who are not used to being on campus, really after a year-and-a-half, [are] getting used to one of the most collaborative skills there is, which is filmmaking,” Jacobson said. “Getting used to working in crews and dividing up the tasks amongst them all is something that they’re mastering as we go.” 

Eighth grade student Tessa Moshtaghi agrees that this class relies on effective team work when producing the broadcast, which contributes to the productive environment of the class.

It’s been really exciting getting to redefine what the broadcast means… I love all creative endeavors, and this was an extension of that, and so getting to explore that in a different way this year with the middle school broadcast — which is more comical and really gets into the technicalities of filmmaking — I’ve really enjoyed it. ”

— Saskia Sommer

 

“It’s a very long process — coming up with these ideas and actually shooting them and making sure everything is perfect,” Moshtaghi said. “I’ve learned patience, and I’ve definitely gotten better at working with new people because you have to do that in order to make a good broadcast.” 

In this class, students also learn firsthand how types of art, like filmmaking, can be used as ways to express themselves creatively. 

“I think that what really makes film and TV stand out is that it’s very hands-on in the way that we learn,” Sommer said. “Something that’s very interesting about this class is that we have so much creative freedom and we’re really able to express ourselves in [the] middle school broadcast.” 

This class is not only unique for its collaborative nature and active learning style, but also because of students’ access to Archer’s highly advanced equipment and technology. The lighting studio is equipped with an infinity wall, green screen and animation equipment, and the collaboration studio has 12 editing bays that have industry-standard software and a sound booth for vocal recording. 

“They give us such incredible equipment,” Moshtaghi said. “They really make it the best it can possibly be — you just have such incredible resources.”

Unlike other film classes at Archer, the film and TV class is audience-driven and revolves entirely around one long-term project: creating the middle school broadcast.

“[This class is] unique because, as opposed to a series of independent and group projects that revolve around certain skill areas in terms of filmmaking, this class is really a production-heavy class,” Jacobson said. “It’s based almost entirely around the middle school broadcast and creating work for the middle school to watch.”

Another aspect about this elective, that is different from other film classes offered at Archer, is that students interests, personalities and ideas are the foundation for the class.

“Each broadcast has its own personal stamp on it depending on the group of students,” Jacobson said. “This one’s no different. It’s got a lot of energy and [the students have] got incredible enthusiasm for their segments.” 

Steven Jacobson helps Tessa Moshtaghi ('26) edit the intro video for the middle school broadcast. "[The process] is very complicated, but it's been really fun," Moshtaghi said. "Mr. Jacobson is fantastic."
Steven Jacobson helps Tessa Moshtaghi (’26) edit the intro video for the middle school broadcast. “[The process] is very complicated, but it’s been really fun,” Moshtaghi said. “Mr. Jacobson is fantastic.” (Photo credit: Saskia Sommer)

 The film and TV class also gives students the opportunity to explore creative writing and effective storytelling through script writing.   

“I think to me, the broadcast has always been a way for middle school students to express themselves in ideas and really develop their voices as creative writers and filmmakers,” Sommer said. “The broadcast has been a marker of my experience through middle school. Watching the broadcast has always been something that I’ve culminated each semester with and really enjoyed, and being able to produce that now has been really exciting.” 

According to Sommer, all middle school students look forward to the middle school broadcast because it encapsulates Archer’s “lighthearted environment.”

“The pleasure in teaching this class really comes from … a certain energy and joy the broadcast represents to the middle school — I think it captures the spirit of the middle school,” Jacobson said. “The Archer middle school, as we all know, is so full of energy and full of laughter and we try and bottle that up and package it in a 10-minute broadcast.”