Students from David Starr Jordan Middle School recently attended a private screening of their own short films at the ABC/Disney Studios in Burbank. The short films were created as part of the Young Movie Makers (YMM) weekly program, with input and advice from student mentors from John Burroughs High School.
Approximately 25 students in one of teacher Richard Lightfoot’s advanced computer science classes participated in the Young Movie Makers program at Jordan. Guest teachers from the program, arranged via the Young Storytellers Foundation (YSF), visited the class to discuss and demonstrate various aspects of film making.
“Students work in groups to conceive, edit and produce a film by the end of the program,” said YSF Executive Director Bill Thompson. “They work with high school theater and film students as their mentors.”
“The groups write a three to four-page screenplay and plan pre-production,” explained YMM coordinator Laura Manchester. “They film and operate the cameras, edit, use a green screen and add special effects all themselves.”
The culmination of the year-long program is a luncheon and screening of the six student shorts, hosted by Disney Studios.
Manchester also teaches some of the YMM classes, along with other industry professionals.
“I’m able to take some of what they teach and add to my own curriculum,” said Lightfoot, who teaches several computer science classes at the middle school.
Students in his classes learn basics of photography, videography, storytelling, Microsoft programs including Office and Excel, Google Docs, and programming skills in Perl and Python. They also produce the daily Cougar Vision school television program and the school Yearbook.
“I really love having the high school kids come down and through their conversations with the kids they get to know each other and work together,” added Lightfoot.
“They were unbelievably mature and worked so hard and were really into it,” JBHS student Sabrina Wrabley said of her group of middle schoolers, “It was fun.”
“We wanted it to be a thriller,” said student Troy Outwater of his group’s film Day and Night. He explained the idea started from a dream had by classmate Sawyer Kaplan.
The YMM program is in four middle schools in the Los Angeles area, including Burbank, Culver City, Venice and Inglewood. YSF’s Script to Stage program is in 36 school across Los Angeles and New York City. The program at Jordan is supported by the Burbank Arts For All Foundation and Disney Studios.
For the 2014-15 school year, YMM will move to an after school program at Jordan, with initial spaces available to students already in the program and entering the middle school from the YSF Script to Stage program at Disney Elementary. YSF will also debut the Script to Stage program for students at McKinley Elementary in the coming school year.