Visual Media at BHSN

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With “Evening of the arts” happening last just a few weeks ago, students are beginning to appreciate some the artistic merit at BHSN and notice the large amount of work students put into these projects. BHSN has a strong visual art community and it’s staff, teachers and students work hard to push art projects forward and have them more present here. However, one thing that’s never focused on are visual media artists- independent creators that spend their time investing in virtual projects like movies or video games. Sure these two things sound nerdy, but they are some of the most popular form of expression today and require a huge amount of dedication and artistic merit. Most would call these students developers and screenplay writers, but let’s call them what they are through this lens- artists. Many of them have spent months and months working on their own creations to post them online and show to peers, but they’re rarely covered in school. This could simply be due to to the nature of expressing these things. It’s a little hard to pull together a room full of student made games and movies, and the school system simply doesn’t spend any of it’s time figuring out video-game development classes or cinematography courses. The goal of this article isn’t necessarily to call the school out or anything, but rather to raise awareness to some of the fantastic work going on here at BHSN.

 

James Shipp, Senior, is a independent game design here at BHSN. He’s been designing games for years and posts his work the majority of his work on Itch.io. He focuses mostly on making short (primarily 2d) experiences, but doesn’t like to tie himself down to any genre in particular.

 

“Every time I make something and have explored a genre a little bit, I tend to move on to the next thing.” said Shipp, “I don’t ever really make two games that look similar.”

 

The games that he publishes are all made entirely by him and most of his works take around ten minutes or less to be able to finish playing. Game design doesn’t stop at programming either- schools tend to forget it also can be used to express unique ideas and creativity. Shipp has had plenty of unique and interesting ideas. He talked about ones based on certain aesthetics, like his plant watering game “Watering Feelings” and games based more on actual gameplay like “Zip”. When he was asked to pick a favorite game, “Zip” was his go to.

 

“It’s the best game I think that I’ve worked on… It’s definitely my favorite because I spent a super lot amount of time on it and I polished it and tested it and kind of went through the actual game development process of it.”

 

“Zip” is a fast paced set of timed action puzzles with a clean minimalist feel to it. There are plenty of other games he’s made and posted onto his account. All of them are fun or at least a somewhat appealing or funny experience. The link to his stuff is “james-shipp.itch.io” if any of you all are interested or want to see what kind of stuff student developers create.

 

Of course game design isn’t the only art form to exist in visual media, and there is actually a surprising amount of students who are wanting to go into film here at BHSN. Neil Smith, Senior, spends a large amount of his time working on various self-written scripts and screenplays that he finalizes and posts onto his YouTube channel “Isthisyourproductions?”. Smith focuses primarily on comedy films with a loose script that are filmed with an emphasis on improvisation.

 

“I used to make my scripts a lot more, but then I realized that when you get there the people and locations probably aren’t very accommodating so it kind of trashes your script,” said Smith, “So if you’re not going to be able to accomplish your vision like that…so I usually just have an idea where the story should go.”

 

It’s difficult to put people together in high school when everyone has conflicting schedules, which forces Smith to be more flexible with his creative process. He likes to let his friends and cast choose when and how certain details are incorporated into the story rather than keep the cast strictly bound to the script.

 

“I started seeing writing as only half way there. There’s just something about seeing it on screen that’s just really cool to me,” said Smith, “I love the whole process of putting something together and then seeing it.”

 

Some of his favorite videos are “Cloak and Dagger” which he says is probably his most professional work so far, their series “Cautionary Tales”, and “Walden; Life in the woods” which he said really hit the mark for being a good comedy video. He also detailed some of his favorite parts about film making.

 

“It’s only as good as the bond you have with your friends,” said Smith.

 

He plans on making his way to the media school at IU and maybe picking up film. Shipp is planning on going to Chicago at DePaul University to study game development. These two aren’t the only students at BHSN who have a passion for these things at North- there are plenty of students like them who just don’t have a way to express themselves as openly. A likely reason we don’t see much of this around North is simply that we don’t have any real “movie writing classes” and whatever few coding/programming classes we have, have a stronger focus on technology support rather than art. These forms of artwork haven’t existed in our culture for thousands of years like painting and drawing, but maybe schools need to start investing in these ideas as electives. After all, they do make excellent jobs.