In the end, what will be unleashed on the world by History By Imagication? A series of short video tutorials on World History, United States History, and United States Government & Politics, intended to help students pass whatever standardized test the fickle Gods of Education deem fit to throw their way! Short, but not boring: we don't go in for dry narration playing over statues of dead people and old engravings of historical events. You'll see exciting re-enactments, and narration with passion and wit...you'll see history in 360 seconds or less...history with education, imagination, and a little bit of magic: Imagication.
This current project is designed to provide funding for the episodes covering the Medieval Ages.
Want to see a sample? Below is a sample History By Imagication video, using footage shot for the Kickstarter introduction video at the top of the page. Our goal would be to include more action and CGI elements to render historical backdrops and settings.
My name is Heath Hamrick, and for ten years I’ve been fighting the good fight: trying to convince high school students that history wasn’t completely boring. I’ve been a teacher, mostly at charter schools, working with the at-risk, and working against the conception they all have about my subject. I can’t really blame them: History does its best to be interesting and relevant; history teachers, now, there’s the problem. I hate to turn on my own, but few people on Earth can put me to sleep faster than a dose of Nyquil, and all of them teach history. History is as loaded in drama, death, destruction, love, fear, hate, and bad fashion as television melodrama, and yet, and yet, history teachers insist on ignoring these elements and focusing on what’s really important: dates.
Welcome to sarcasm, friend of high school teachers everywhere.
A few years ago, I realized that sometimes History teachers need a little helping hand...and History students a quick, relatively simple and visually interesting look at what's gone down. So I started making little two-to-three minute videos to help my kids find a little interest and humor in a subject they love to hate. At first I scraped together footage from films and documentaries so I could illustrate my points, and my little cartoon avatar changed as I started making more of these little “History By Hamrick” videos. My Vimeo.com page, the School of Imagication, gets thousands of loads weekly from schools across the country, which is odd considering I haven’t ever advertised these little videos. Even thrown together by a teacher with no disposable income and very little free time, who has never made ANY effort to advertise them, this videos are proving successful. Now I’d like to take it to the next level.
Hence, my idea: a webpage for History videos, little two or three minute vignettes, that don’t suck the life out of the subject with dry dates and a bare recitation of facts. We’ve got sites like Khan Academy for the Math and Sciences, but History is the most reviled subject out there, and students and parents both need a resource that’s short, simple, clear, and damned entertaining…and did I mention, free? I don’t want to make a profit; I want kids to come away from these vids thinking history is a lot cooler than they thought.
Which is where you fine folks come in. I’m looking for funding to produce the footage necessary to make History By Hamrick a reality. I’m a teacher, so I’m used to doing a lot with a little, so I’m not asking for the moon; funds are going to be used to purchase costumes and props and help feed my actor friends a little pizza so they don’t completely hate me for making them dress up in heavy armor or wool uniforms in the Texas heat. The result will be an absolutely FREE resource for students, teachers, and parents everywhere.
As for me? I’ve been shooting and editing digital video for over a decade, using it in the classroom as much as humanely possible. I’ve won two teaching grants, from Lockheed-Martin and Best Buy, and lectured or presented at multiple statewide educated conferences, including the Texas Charter School Association Conference, the Texas Association of Alternative Education Conference, and the Region IX Technology Conference. I’ve got the skills and experience to pull this off, and help a lot of kids while I’m at it. I just need your help.
History By Imagication is going to be funded in steps, a historical subject at a time, with goals of around a thousand dollars for each.
Our current goal is to reach a thousand dollars to fund a series of videos on the Medieval Ages. This would include a look at The Dark Ages, Feudalism, The Norman Conquest, the Crusades, The Magna Carta, The Hundred Years War, Medieval Christianity, The Black Death, and Courtly Love & Chivalry.
Risks and challenges
After we achieve our funding goal, the challenges are those facing normal "independent" film-makers; obtaining costumes and props, finding actors and locations, arranging shoots, etc. It takes very little to make a successful tutorial video: passion for the subject, wit, some visuals that aren't simple pictures or maps, and a nice under-score. Fortunately, we have all of these things in abundance...all we need is the funding to get the costumes and props!
We also face a unique challenge: historical events become harder to re-enact the closer to modern times we get. Our funding level may enable us to get through a large swathe of ancient history, but as we get closer to the World Wars, we start running into some pretty hefty needs when it comes to costuming, props, actors, and even CGI graphics. At this point, we'll focus on the easiest to accomplish and work our way forward, a historical subject at a time.
Of course, any endeavor in education runs a simple risk: will this resource be used or tossed aside? Will it reach students? Will it engage them? Will it clarify a point? Nothing would be worse than a series of unwatched web videos. However, consider a few mitigating factors: the creator is an grant-winning teacher with a gift for education. You can see testament to that in his multiple speaking engagements at teacher conferences in Texas, and by a decade's worth of the praise of students and parents. He is also a published author, with two published books under his belt; AND he has been working with students and digital video since his first years as a teacher. In other words: he can write effectively, he can teach effectively, and he can film and edit effectively.
Originally, the funding amount for the entire series was close to 20,000 dollars: we'll film as many History By Imagication videos as we can before the money runs out, focusing on Medieval History first, and then working our way forward. In that way, while we have a good chance at funding the early episodes, a risk would be that funding enthusiasm dies away and the later episodes become harder and harder to fund ( just as we need more and more money to simulate the history).
We begin with the Medieval Age, smack dab in the middle of history, because we already possess many props, accoutrements, and costumes from that time period. The items already in our possession account for about $700 of the estimated $1700 price tag for these episodes, hence the project goal of $1000.
Anticipated Costs of Production for Each Time Period:
Ancient History (Greece and Rome): $2285
Medieval Age: $1700
Revolution and Early US History $2579
Modern History $2732
- (15 days)