The Psychology of Movie Trailers and the Long Game of #ds106

This past week we had the unique opportunity of having an incoming Freshman, Anna Rinko, present to a room full of UMW faculty about the psychology of movie trailers. She was the kickoff speaker for the two-day Digital Media Workshop Andy Rush ran for creating course trailers. It was pretty awesome to have a high school senior introduce the topic based on her research into the physical and emotional effects of movie trailers.

But Anna Rinko is not just any high school senior. Oh no, she’s the soon-to-be-crowned valedictorian of King George High School, as well as a student in the Commonwealth Governor’s School. She also walked last month at a local Virginia Community College after completing her Associates degree entirely online—all before graduating high school. Crazy, right? Anna Rinko is the real deal. And arguably her path to greatness can be traced back to a little class she took during a Summer Enrichment Program here at UMW almost three years ago: ds106—the Breakfast Club edition 🙂

The Breakfast Club Animated GIf of "Two Months Bender"

Anna was part of a two-week ds106 course I ran back in the summer of 2012—which was a total blast. She was hard to forget because she fell in love with video mashups. I featured two of her early trailers on the bava in a postmortem wrap-up of the Breakfast Club edition:

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We had another awesome mashup wherein Anna took <em>Bedknobs and Broomsticks</em> (1971) and remixed it to be a horror film:

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Or her trailer of Prehistoric Women which focuses on the truly stronger sex—yet another politicized video in all its b-movie glory!

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Since that summer Anna has been sending me links to her more than 50 mashup trailers she’s done since she took ds106 three years ago. It’s like we’re email pen pals, although she did all the work. I was just like, “You rule!” Earlier this year Anna asked me to be a faculty adviser on her senior research project that culminated in the 15 minute presentation you can see above. I was truly blown away by how articulate, poised, and generally awesome she is. It’s easy to see why she has accomplished as much as she has in so little time. She conducted a research study on people’s reaction to trailers. As part of the project, she created her own trailer called “Absolute Peace” to show to her research subjects, and then collected information about their reactions. She created the trailer from select BBC videos and used the soundtrack for the Iron Man 3 trailer for maximum effect. It’s a pretty amazing trailer that captures the zeitgeist of our moment

But she didn’t stop at creating the trailer, she collected data and reported back on how her own experiment corroborated the research she had done about the psychological effects of movie trailers, and how that breaks down along gender lines. Brilliant stuff, you can see the slides to her talk here.

One of the things I was surprised to find out was that she applied to UMW. I was not surprised to learn, however, that she was awarded the prestigious Washington Scholarship, which translates into a full-ride for 4 years at UMW. She has accepted, and I have no doubt she will be a truly brilliant addition to UMW. It’s hard to comprehend what she will be able to accomplish at university given how much she has already done in high school. She is operating at an intellectual level well beyond her years, and she handles it all with so much grace and humility it’s hard not to be thrilled for her.

I have to sadly come to terms with the fact that I can take no credit for any of Anna’s awesome. I was fortunate enough to meet her mother, Terry Rinko, at the Digital Media Workshop, and it’s apparent where so much of her sharpness, curiosity, poise, and generally pleasant disposition originate. But I have to say that one of the great rewards of having been doing ds106 for as long as I have now (more than 5 years) is witnessing how a course like this can light a fire in someone as genius as Anna, starting her down a path wherein web-based media creation and storytelling becomes yet another way for her to express her brilliance. Listening to her present to a room full of UMW faculty was definitely one of the best moments I’ve had in my ten year career at Mary Washington.

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2 Responses to The Psychology of Movie Trailers and the Long Game of #ds106

  1. Pulling out a British “gobsmacked” would be a huge understatement seeing not only Anna’s creative works but her ability to articulate them so coherently. What a wild idea to know a student comes *in* to UMW with this kind of ability.

    You may not want to take credit for the Breakfast club, but you ought to take some. It hits home again and again how ds106 is not just one thing, there are so many facets and iterations that blow apart all of the hype and money spent to make a “course”. Spread over scale, spread over scale.

    Wow, wow, and WOW.

    • Reverend says:

      Alan,
      I have to say there is some real gratification seeing how the Breakfast Club edition inspired students like Anna. I still believe one of the coolest elements of ds106 is it’s age agnostic. You can be 7 or 70, and still rock this course. Some real powerful lessons about the particularity of curriculum when the content is decided upon and even inspired by the participant. It further challenges this idea of content as a cornerstone of literacy and fluency when it comes to this media, or the web more generally. I mean, what the hell does content on the web even mean these days?

      As for Anna’s work, she just happened to bring ds106 into her unbelievable intellectual orbit, and damn were we lucky, even tangentially 🙂

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