Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Film Camp—The Journey Begins

Yesterday, we started our summer film camp for high school students. It’s a joint effort between Media Missionary School and the Vineyard Community Church. Honestly, this is my favorite time of the year. Watching a group of high schoolers give up a valuable week of their summer vacation to learn the art of filmmaking is really something to see. You absolutely have to love this stuff to sit through classroom time while all your friends are at the pool.

The challenge is to make a short film in only five days. Easier said than done. They have to come up with an original idea, write a script, acquire locations and actors, shoot the film, and then edit their project by 2:00 on Friday afternoon.

It’s an enormous amount of work that requires a combined team effort to accomplish the goal of producing what amounts to be a mini-movie. I have a feeling that this camp may be the best one we have ever had. They seem highly energetic and ready for the challenge.

Our theme for this camp is “Lost and Found and Other Unforeseen Circumstances”. It’s up to each team to decide how to interpret the theme. It’s amazing to see the creativity and the direction that each team ultimately decides to pursue. Frankly, they come up with stories that I would never have thought of. They must include this line of dialogue: That’s a strange brand of happy. Also, within their short film, they must show a red balloon.

And finally, they invite their family and friends to a world premier on Friday at 3:00 p.m. It may not be a black tie affair, but it certainly has the feel of a red carpet event.

Day One: Things got off with a bang as Brad Wise, writer of two feature films, Fenced Off and A Strange Brand of Happy, lead a workshop on story structure. Brad really knows his stuff as he took the class through numerous writing exercises and an in-depth analysis of character development. Afterwards, teams broke out into their individual sessions with their team leaders: Kyle Hamilton, Ron Calhoun, and Thomas Green. It’s during this time that they actually start the process of writing a story.

After a quick lunch, it’s on to the production workshop with Isaac Stambaugh. Writing a story is one thing, but figuring out how to execute it is an entirely different matter. Isaac explained the entire process from development, pre-production, production, and post-production. Isaac has served as a first assistant director and unit manager for three feature films so he certainly understands the mechanics of making a movie.

One of the things that makes our camp so unique is the fact that we bring in working professionals who actually work in the industry and know what they are talking about. It’s our goal to provide practical information which can lead to a career in the media and entertainment business.

At 4:00 p.m. we had the final workshop of the day. I’m sure by then everybody was ready to go home, but I told them to just give me one more hour because this workshop may very well be the most important one of the entire class. I asked the question what is your story. Do you believe God is at work in Hollywood? What do you think God’s heart is for Hollywood and the entertainment industry? That’s a lot to throw at high schoolers on the first day. But those are important questions because it’s not always about making pretty pictures. I asked the class to stop for a second and think about what they are doing and why they do it. I also challenged them to think about a calling and if God could be calling them to be media missionaries. As I said, our film camps are different. And this was just the first day. I can’t wait to see what they come up with and how things unfold today.

Camp coordinator Lori Roberds with Brad's new baby

Kyle Hamilton's team hard at work

Isaac Stambaugh Mr. filmmaker

The writer " Brad Wise "

Thomas Green and team

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