A titillating post title (but perhaps an inappropriate one given the number of wildfires tearing through California right now.)
I’m using it because it’s the title of H’s latest film. It screened at the SF Museum of Modern Art last night. It was part of a selection of youth films which are being released on a companion disc with the latest issue of Big Bell, a local literary magazine.
I will probably get in trouble for posting about it, once H finds out. And he will find out, because he googles his film titles on a regular basis, to see what’s happening with them. That’s how he found out that one of them had been screened in places as far-flung as Syracuse and Denver and Weeneebeg, Canada.
I’m going to risk his wrath because I’m proud of him. He screened a film at the MOMA!
How to Set a House on Fire is H’s adaptation of a short story. H decided to go with an adaptation for this film because he wanted to focus on the cinematography, which is his particular passion. It was filmed mostly by lantern-light, around the time of the summer equinox (which Chris would translate as “very late at night” because he helped H on this film and it took a lot of waiting for it to get dark enough.)
(Edited: This post originally had a link to H’s film. I removed it, as H didn’t love the idea that anyone Googling the title of his film got directed straight to his mama’s little blog. If you’d like to see the film yourself, simply do a search of this post’s title on youtube.)
When H decided to go to school last year as a high school junior, I felt somewhat like a failure as a homeschooler. It wasn’t a choice his homeschooling friends had made, and I wondered if I could have done something to prevent it. But one of my firmest homeschooling beliefs is that learning should be directed by the kids. It must be meaningful to them. If H wanted to go to school–and he was 16 and old enough to make such a decision–then, ultimately, one of the most homeschoolish things I could do was support his decision.
And despite so many things that I don’t like about school–how H gets little say in his education, that there’s so much busy-work, that his schoolwork is directed from the outside rather than being fueled from within–I can reconcile myself with it because H is happy. And because he has his filmmaking.
In H’s filmmaking life, he’s still working like a homeschooler. He’s directing (literally and figuratively) what he wants. He’s pushing himself in new ways constantly. He’s making things happen through the sheer force of his vision and his dedication. (I would love to link the program that’s helping H with all of this. But he forbade me to link to it, not wanting Mama to show up on blog searches, which I probably will in this case anyway. If you’re curious about the program, ask me!)
There’s more than one way to set a house on fire. You could start with a match. Or you could make sure the inhabitants of that house are rubbing their creativity and inspiration together often enough to set things smoldering. And then you’ll have a different sort of fire.