How Did They DO It?


IES is a class that not only explores literature, but the process of turning fiction into film. Like the other novels we studied (Great Gatsby Breakfast at Tiffany's, Beloved) we connected Frankenstein to the culture it came from. We studied the themes, art, philosophies and culture of both Romanticism and the Enlightenment, as they existed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Rather than studying the many Frankenstein films, we wanted to make a thematic connection to the 21st century. At the time of our study of Shelly's work there had been a media frenzy about "Dr. Frankenstein's" of the 21st century: genetic engineers. The idea of human cloning sent journalists into a whirlwind. The headlines plastered the covers of TIME and The New York Times Magazine, not to mention numerous medical journals. The connection to Shelley's work was powerful and we drew from these comparisons and Andrew Niccol's film, Gattaca, to create our own forum to discuss these revolutionary ideas and how they are represented in our popular culture, art and philosophies today. 

From the literary springboard, our class opened a debate about the ethics of genetic engineering and we wanted to gain every perspective possible. With the help of a grant from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Pfizer; Amgen Pharmaceuticals, and Dr. Stephen Kunkel, an internationally renowned microbiologist from the University of Michigan, we formatted this symposium as a connection of our study of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and the theme of man vs. nature as it exists today.

We gained insight into the massive effort it takes to spearhead a large, multimedia event. We booked and corresponded with scientists, political representatives, and artists from across the country, created the program, organized the stage design, and managed the large number of students and community members who came to watch. Ultimately, the show opened with a 17-minute montage that we edited using Final Cut Pro; a collection of over 200 clips from films tar related to our themes. Despite endless hours of work leading up to the event, a handful of us worked overnight at school to problem-solve last minute glitches before the show. With over 800 people in attendance at Huron High School auditorium, we mastered professional audio-visual equipment, event planning, talent booking, history, art and literature to make "Nice Genes" a first class, multimedia event.