Spotlight On: Real Art Ways’ Eye On Video

NeighborhoodStudiosIconOur final stop on this summer’s Neighborhood Studios tour lands us at Real Art Ways’ Eye On Video Studio located in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood.  Working in the realm of filmmaking, ten apprentices have self-identified their own creative goals for the summer while simultaneously completing individual and collaborative assignments, acquiring technical skills and dabbling in film theory.  With an eye towards their showcase this Thursday, these apprentices have set their sights and ears on their culminating work, a film festival to highlight their music videos.

Erika Van Natta, Master Teaching Artist, has led the Eye On Video Studio for the eight years that Real Art Ways has been a Neighborhood Studios partner.  Between plotting video scavenger hunts and fostering creative problem solving, Erika sat down to share with us just how she guides these young filmmakers through their summer apprenticeships.

What are the goals for your studio this summer?

Becoming aware of one’s desire to improve is a powerful thing. At the beginning of the Neighborhood Studios program, I like to have our Apprentices journal about their professional and personal goals for the summer. Through writing and verbalizing these aspirations they not only set goals, but more importantly they declare an intention to reach these goals.

NS Eye on Video T-Shirt_FINALThis seems like one of the most important philosophies behind Neighborhood Studios. We are giving young artists a chance to take ownership of their success within a professional and creative environment.

This year our Apprentices are striving to learn more about filmmaking, grow as artists, find their personal style, and to create something they can be proud of. My goals are to make our Apprentices aware of what they are trying to achieve, to offer them the support they need to reach these goals, and ultimately to ensure that their ambitions are realized. The amount of growth and achievement they can add to their personal “success file” directly impacts their ideas about what is possible for their future.

What’s an average day like at your studio?

On an average day in the Real Art Ways, Eye On Video program our Apprentices will watch a contemporary or historically significant film and reflect upon it through journaling. Then, we discuss the film as a group and see what everybody noticed and what we can learn from it. Other parts of the day might include a technical demonstration or theoretical instruction on the elements that make up a film such as: cinematography, editing, visual storytelling, and sound design. The focus then shifts to the Apprentices’ work with hands on production time. Depending on the week, our Apprentices may be collecting shots for a “scavenger hunt,” working collaboratively on challenging one-day assignments, or realizing their own larger independent projects, all the while receiving feedback, support and advice from both myself and their peer group.

What about working with students in the Greater Hartford region inspires you?

Working with students in the Greater Hartford region has definitely been inspiring. There are so many young people here who are interested in the arts and in bringing creativity to the areas around them. It’s amazing to see these young artist Apprentices from all different backgrounds come together with common interests and passions. The connections they make in the Neighborhood Studios program allows them to see themselves as part of a greater arts community.

D72_7033How do you see the exploration of an artistic discipline as well as career skills impacting the way these students might look towards the future?

The exploration of an artistic discipline combined with acquiring essential career skills helps the apprentices realize that they can have a future in the arts. It goes beyond the technical, filmmaking and production skills they can add to their resume. They’re learning creative problem solving skills, and how to thrive in an artistic work environment where challenges are open-ended and solutions are as individual as they are.

Over the years that I’ve been teaching Eye On Video it’s been exciting to see our Apprentices go on to study filmmaking in college, and pursue careers in the arts. The most rewarding part is that many of them keep returning to Neighborhood Studios and to our studio here at Real Art Ways. We become a part of their sense of home. We believe in them, and we’re always happy to celebrate their growth and progress.

A warm thank you to Erika for giving us the behind the camera view of Eye On Video! Join these apprentices for their Neighborhood Studios showcase event, a music video film festival on August 8 at 6 pm at Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street, Hartford.  Admission is free and for more information visit