The HAW-CSULB family finally back together again

There was great joy on both sides when, from 6 to 10 June 2022, after a two-year break due to Corona, film workshops with professors from the strategic partner, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), were back in Hamburg. In 2020 and 2021, we had to switch to online workshops, which were also very successful, but nothing replaces on-site face-to-face exchange. Professor Wolfgang Willaschek reports.

Gruppen von Studierenden und Lehrenden vor dem Campus Finkenau

Film Workshops mit Kent Hayward and Kevin O'Brien (CSULB) in Hamburg

It is wonderful, or as they like to say in the USA, "marvellous", that after the online workshops "Carrying the Torch" (2020) and "Postcards from Home" (2021) it was finally possible to get together on campus again and have colleagues from the "Film & Electronic Arts" department back in Hamburg. The online workshops kept the lively exchange of professors and students between the two universities alive, but face-to-face is just better.

Finally back to in-person teaching

It was the seventh workshop with the label "CSULB at HAW" since 2014 and it will hopefully soon be followed by the fifth "HAW at CSULB" visit - currently planned for autumn 2022. Kent Hayward (who can confidently be called one of the "fathers" and guiding figures of this partnership) and Kevin O'Brien (second time in Hamburg: 'I simply love this city.'), as accomplished filmmakers, authors and producers, but above all as passionate teachers, conducted a multi-part workshop with HAW Hamburg media technology students. The workshops were part of "Image Design Dramaturgy", from the elective module "Practice Dramaturgy" as well as the film project class "Short Cut". Participating students also included CSULB exchange students Luke Wagner and Claith Fancy: Synergy effects wherever you look!

Expertise from both sides

Above all, this workshop once again underlined the central core of the partnership from the "foot of the Hollywood hills". With film examples and intensive discussions about screenwriting, storyboard, shooting, production and "management, management, management", HAW Hamburg students were given an insight to filmmaking that isn't included in the Hamburg curriculum. So, it wasn't surprising to see the "thirst for knowledge" and the enthusiasm with which the participants took up every suggestion to write and make films. Right up to a "Consulation Hour" where individual students and small groups discussed their ideas and visions "face-to-face" with the American professors.

Of course, this partnership would not be balanced if there were not a counterpart at the "foot of Hamburg", or let's rather say on the Finkenau campus, and that lies in its state-of-the-art technology and practical lab projects. Working with the latest technology is one of the unique selling points of media technology at HAW Hamburg. So, the CSULB professors had the opportunity to visit rehearsals for the interactive virtual joint project "Beyond Imagination" in cooperation with the virtual reality LED studio PMBlue. Virtual reality requires a new kind of dramaturgy, a different "storytelling" from the technical side. In March 2019, professors from HAW Hamburg visited CSULB to initiate this innovative axis with a VR project "Looking through the Glass". Last week's visit sparked a veritable fireworks display of discussion on "how" exactly to organise this field in the future.

At home in Hamburg

Accompanied by Dorothea Wenzel, Dean of the Faculty of Design, Media & Information and "patron" of this partnership since 2014, Wolfgang Willaschek, Christina Becker, Martina Hentig and Ole Christiansen (one of the exchange students at CSULB in 2021) as well as numerous colleagues made every effort to make it as homely as possible for the American guests in Hamburg. (One long-standing ritual is a visit to a restaurant with typical Hamburg cuisine). And talking about being at home in Hamburg: On the last day of the workshop, the guests learned that "Moin" is not only used as a greeting in the morning, but all day, but that if someone says, "Moin, Moin", it means that that person is not from Hamburg. And since Kent Hayward and Kevin O'Brien have always said "Moin" with total convictio, this is proof of how at home these partners and friends are in Hamburg. So, the same applies to students and professors alike: Here's to a new "meeting in the flesh", soon at the foot of the Hollywood hills!

Text: Wolfgang Willaschek


Prof. Wolfgang Willaschek
Department Medientechnik