Learning and Fun Go Together?

Becky Palmer, Reel Spirit, and Xavier Patton, camp attendee

Students Attending Filmmaker’s Camp Discovered They Do

Engage, educate and empower. Fourteen seventh- and eighth-grade students recently discovered those three words can include learning and fun at the same time.

Four area Boys & Girls Clubs – J & D Wagner, Independence, Thornberry and Hawthorne – participated in the second “Reel” Inspiration Young Filmmaker’s camp designed to help students develop certain skills through the power of film storytelling. The camp was sponsored by the Communication Studies Media Lab at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and Reel Spirit, the kids’ filmmaking competition portion of the Kansas City Filmfest.

Their goal was to teach communication, cooperation, problem solving, decision-making and creative thinking skills.

“Our goal was to assist them in working together to create a good story and to use filming and editing techniques to bring their stories to life,” said Wanda Hatter, one of the directors of Reel Spirit.

Reel Spirit and the media lab staff members, including UMKC media instructor Kevin Mullin, instructed students in the construction of the pre-production planning with scripts and storyboards; the actual production process; and the post production on the computers.

The two-member teams were each given one word – “teamwork,” “friendship,” “cooperation,” “loyalty,” “perseverance” or “persistence” – around which they would write, film, edit and produce a short, stop-motion animated story.

During the process of creating the storyline, the students operated camera equipment and learned about lighting, shadows and framing. In addition, they practiced shooting close-ups and long shots, as well as learning basic rules of photography.

Each team created their story in a cardboard box, adjusted characters to create different scenes, took approximately 200 photographs of the various scenes and edited their films. Sound effects were added at the end of the process.

Films included an interesting mix of ideas.

One team created an outdoor scene – dark green grass, bright flowers, bright clouds and brilliant sun. They added several friends to their yard and created a film using the word forgiveness.

“Voices will be added later to talk about dispute and resolutions,” said Martavia, one of the team members.

Team two created “Alligator Rampage,” using cooperation as their theme word. The scene consisted of mountains, clouds, men, a jeep and an escaped alligator that turned over the jeep and chased the men up the mountainside. The team said they learned that without cooperation, they would have perished.

Another film, “The Gift,” depicted soldiers attacking monsters, only to realize that the monsters brought gifts to make amends. Other teams created scenarios using aliens fighting over a girl; a genie and a remote control making things appear or disappear; and poison spilling into drinking water.

Teammates Mark and Wade were eager to share their thoughts about the animation camp.

“We were excited about making a movie,” said Wade. “I didn’t think you could accomplish all of this on a computer.”

Mark expressed a sense of accomplishment while editing their film.

“I was really excited to use the software and especially to be able to add the sound without any help from our teachers,” said Mark.

The finished product – a DVD created by each team and an opportunity to share them with other members of the camp. For all of their hard work, each student received a certificate, a t-shirt and a DVD with all seven films on it.

|Wandra Brooks Green, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications


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