Alistair Debling, a new addition to the Belmont Hill faculty, grew up in Bristol, England. His first experience with the visual arts, his area of expertise, occurred when he was in elementary school. He was given disposable cameras to use on trips, and commented that, “[viewing your photos] was always an exciting moment, going through a stack of new prints – often it had been awhile since I’d taken them, so you get to relive your good memories.” Furthering his passion for film, Alistair took art classes throughout his high school education, primarily photography. His first experience with moving images was in his senior year, when he made animations using cut-up photographs and drawings. At Harvard, he focused more on the art of film, taking fiction filmmaking classes and majoring in Visual and Environmental Studies, while pursuing interests in theater and military theory on the side.
Alistair is intrigued by the visual arts for a number of reasons. Firstly, he learned how to tell stories through filmmaking. This skill is crucial in both creative work and other professional fields; Alistair also learned of the challenges of writing, shooting, and editing while making a film. He enjoys tackling these problems in creative ways in order to produce the best film possible. Secondly, he is fascinated by the domination which images have in our lives today. From walking down the street to opening your phone, images are nearly impossible to avoid. Mr. Debling told me that he believes learning the art of images is important to our understanding of today’s world, stating “I think that in the 21st century, more than ever, being able to think critically about images and produce your own are two very important skills to have.” Seeking to share and teach his passion for the visual arts to others, Mr. Debling turned to a career in teaching.
This year was Mr. Debling’s first year of teaching. He had always considered teaching as a career, and knew of several prep schools in New England which had openings for recent graduates to teach. As he and Mr. Sundel, another teacher at Belmont Hill, knew each other from Harvard, our school was brought to his attention. When Mr. Debling looked to see the available job opportunities, an opening in the Arts department which fit his interests was open, and he applied immediately. At Belmont Hill, Mr. Debling taught a number of film and photography classes, both opening the door to visual arts for boys who would never have considered working in the field and guiding and improving the skills of those already interested. My class in particular showed incredible progress in cinematography, storytelling, and filmmaking over the course of one short semester. Next year, Mr. Debling will be earning his MFA in visual arts at the University of Oxford, and hopes to stay involved in the arts and education. Although we are sad to see him go, we wish him well for the future and thank him for the work he has done at Belmont Hill.