Inception to Projection is a six-week filmmaking course based in Hot Springs where students write, direct, produce, edit, and ultimately screen their own short film. And as any great filmmaker must, the students of Inception to Projection inevitably learn how to merge technology and art in a way that translates the human heartbeat.

“Everything about film is about translating the human experience through a form of technology,” Inception to Projection director Jen Gerber says.

“It has to go through a form of technology. Whether it’s a lens, it’s a camera, it’s a microphone, it’s editing, it’s output — every aspect of it, it’s about the human heartbeat being translated through a machine. Learning how to translate that is what we aim to do, which is very hard to do, but it’s been amazing to watch our students accomplish it.”

Technical skills will always be required in film to get “the shot.” Gerber says there has to be some level of technical proficiency for the story to be told in a way that connects with other humans through this medium. With this need for technological understanding among many artists who may consider themselves predominantly right-brained, it’s not uncommon for amateur filmmakers to feel overwhelmed.

Gerber’s best advice is to remain patient.

“I find that a lot of people are like, ‘Why can’t I do this right away?’ If you were learning a new instrument, you wouldn’t be able to play Rachmaninoff on the piano overnight,” she says. “It just takes time, and it’s about knowing it’s going to take time and being patient with yourself and doing it enough that you get to that level of proficiency.”

Gerber works to combat amateur filmmakers’ fear of technology throughout the program.

“Just try,” she says. “See what that button does. See what that filter adds. Just explore and be curious and try to replace your fear with curiosity and see where that will take you. … It’s ok to do it wrong. Just try it.”

Want to see some of the Inception to Projection works on the big screen? Check out Low Key Arts’s 17th annual Arkansas Shorts Short Film Festival, which will take place  January 5–7, 2024, at the historic Malco Theatre in Hot Springs. The weekend-long event will feature projects from the Inception to Projection program.