Crowdfunding for a University Film Project

Guest post: The makings of the film Reflections with Broken Edges – by Ina Fischer (1st AD/Casting Director)


Three years ago I graduated from Frankfurt International School (FIS). In three months time, I will have finished my Bachelor of Arts degree in Film & Television Production.

Time has become somewhat of a “wibbly wobbly” concept, as Doctor Who would say. Not long ago, it seems, I was fretting about my Extended Essay. Now I am working on my final project for university – a short film that was ‘commissioned’ (minus the financial aspect) by my course’s professors over the summer.

I came up with the story for the film around this time last year, while writing yet another reflective essay and listening to my iTunes in the background. Joshua Kadison’s song The Bubble Man started playing and, although I had listened to it a hundred times before, I suddenly started seeing the story of the song play out in front of my eyes. Kadison’s story-telling abilities are unique – one of his albums is quite fittingly titled Troubadour in a Timequake – and as such, the American songwriter is a great inspiration for human conflict, emotions, and distinctive characters.

The Bubble Man tells the story of an unnamed narrator who walks along Venice Beach and sees an old man blowing bubbles. The old man has promised himself to love the world the best he can, mesmerizing young and old alike as the giant bubbles float toward the sun.

I wanted to get to know this old man more. What kind of people does he meet every day? What do the people on the boardwalk think about him? How does his motto of loving the world influence others?

This bubble man, shaped by time and children’s smiles, appeared almost magical to me – as though he has been stood there on the boardwalk for decades, with generations of kids chasing his bubbles. Children grow up with this kindhearted figure, eventually taking their own children to see the bubble man.

I really wanted to tell the story of the bubble. That is how Charlie and Reflections with Broken Edges was born.

In life we take some things for granted, and it is only when they are gone that we truly appreciate the impact they have had on us. Set in the beautiful Lake District, Cumbria, the film tells the heartfelt story of Charlie Marshall. We follow his life from his early childhood, as he visits the bubble man for the first time, to present day fatherhood. One day, he discovers that the old man has disappeared. Finding him terminally ill in hospital, Charlie has to come to terms with losing a lifelong friend. With new-found perspective in the wake of his loss, Charlie begins to reflect on his life.

Reflections with Broken Edges is a poetic, magical film about friendship and trust, about attempting life each day with a smile.

And you can help make it happen by visiting our IndieGogo campaign page: Any support is greatly appreciated, as we strive to make this the best graduation film yet.

Update received via e-mail on 16 Feb 2012:

The official title of the film will now simply be ‘Reflections’.

University Alumni Groups in Germany

During English class, while reading the International Herald Tribune’s article End Bonuses for Bankers, my student and I both questioned the plural form of bonus.

We reviewed the common form of nouns ending with -us getting the plural form of -i, e.g. cactus (cacti), octopus (octopi), alumnus (alumni), and we both confirmed the German plural of Bonus as being Boni. From bonuses in English, we then proceeded to the German translation for alumnus, where I had to pass.

Strange, I thought. It sometimes happens that I can’t even remember a word in my own mother tongue, but this one went further. Was there a word for alumnus in German? If so, what significance did it carry in the world of German academia?

First, I consulted the online dictionary, Leo. The result was a lot of ehemalige (former) student, co-worker, school, college student and also graduate.

In most countries, alumnus stands for having attended the same university, but the meaning in German is a bit broader.

I then went on to search in German for alumni groups around Germany with two results coming up. There are 40 university student alumni groups in Germany (source: wikipedia), with many other old orders, about 900,  either of a religious, political or drinking fraternity kind.

The Allies, after WWII, prohibited student alumni groups due to their sometimes pro-Nazi position. This ban was lifted in West Germany in the late 1940s, but remained in East Germany. Studentenverbindungen (college student alumni groups) were often associated with revolt.

On bdvb (network for economics majors), I learned that the act of former university students setting up alumni group (without any political attachment) was reestablished in Germany in the late 1980s.

Quoting from their page:

Im angelsächsischem Raum sind “Alumni”-Organisationen seit fast 200 Jahren fester Bestandteil vieler Universitäten. In Deutschland etablieren sich Ehemaligen-Netzwerke seit Ende der 80er Jahre des vergangenen Jahrhunderts.

Absolventinnen und Absolventen haben so die Möglichkeit, die während des Studiums gewonnenen Kontakte zu Kommilitonen und zur Hochschule zu halten und auszubauen.

“In Anglo-Saxon countries, alumni groups have been an integral part of universities for almost 200 years. In Germany, alumni networks got set up in the late 80s of the previous century.

Graduates have the opportunity to keep and develop contacts to other alumni and their university.”

Networking is a fairly new idea to most university graduates. Why, you might wonder. In my opinion, attending university free of tuition charge leaves students without feeling any kind of commitment. A certain sense of entitlement to free education is prevalent and further contact has not been seen of much value to one’s career. Of course, students remain friends over the years, but since most universities are state-run, there really is no need for any alumni groups to help support the university.

My husband, on the other hand, gets frequent mail from his former university in the U.S. Most often it is asking for donations to help build something new on campus. Tell that to a German: Please give money to help finance your university facilities. This idea actually makes me smile as I ponder the reaction.

Another fact is the relaxed attitude of repaying student loans (BAföG). Two good friends of mine have never even attempted to repay the loan. One offered me the solution of how to get away with it – just never make your first payment. The mistake of making a first payment results in having to pay everything back. I was saddened to recognize this lack of dignity on her behalf. Then again, some Germans feel wholly entitled to most benefits.

A life of tuition free university education and the chance of defaulting your student loan leaves little room for appreciating your college education.



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