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Film camp teaches movie magic

By Jessica Rodrigo
July 12, 2013 at 2:12 a.m.
Updated July 13, 2013 at 2:13 a.m.

Taylor Koehl, 11, pushes a feather duster through a tube as Teresa Esparza, 12, and instructor Kendall Music see how it looks through the camera lens as the group tries out backward-motion effects during the Young Filmmakers Institute film camp Thursday at Trinity Episcopal School. When played backward, it will appear as though the feather duster magically flies back into the tube.

The students in the music classroom at Trinity Episcopal School were busy in a room filled with drums, guitars, keyboards and musical notes pinned to the walls, but not a musical note could be heard.

A group of five students sat in a group Thursday below Mike Maize, a motion picture and television actor, brainstorming ideas for a short movie they are shooting during the Young Filmmakers Institute.

Hailey Turner wanted to do a movie that included a war between good and evil, but Maize told them there could be no violence or weapons used in the film.

The 11-year-old had recently watched "World War Z," "The Lone Ranger" and "Despicable Me 2" and was thinking of following in the films' footsteps.

"I guess that what's in the movies, right?" said Maize. "But we can have a movie without violence, too."

The group of students - Hailey, Taylor Koehl, 11; Riley Griggs, 10; Taylor Swor, 12; and Teresa Esparza, 12 - were assigned the task of creating a story, writing lines and combining their acting skills with the other new skills they've learned during the first week of camp, including special effects and editing.

In the end, the group decided to film a conflict between some homeless people and town government that included a competition of unnatural proportions.

Hailey played the role of the town mayor and was eager to test her acting skills. She had taken acting training before, and this was a chance to add to it.

"I really like acting and watching movies," she said.

Maize worked with the students to improve their acting skills and how to work in front of the camera.

"I learned to open up to the crowd, express true emotion while acting," said Taylor Swor, 12, about acting. "The more of yourself that you put into your character, the more believable it is."

Other guest instructors included Joey Shanks and Kendall Music, both of Chapel Hill, N.C., and Darko Lungulov, of Serbia. All three worked on films that were featured during the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival in April.

Shanks and Music, of the production company moviemagicnow.com, were busy shooting footage of the students during the camp so the students could learn how to do it and use it in their movies.

"We teach them how to do special effects and animate each other with practical effects," said Music. "There is no computer-generated imagery in what we do."

The students learned how to create reverse- and forward-motion clips and light painting. All the tricks are created within the camera, she said.

"The stop-motion is really cool. I really liked the reverse effects," said Taylor.

Once the script was memorized, each character had two lines and the scenes were determined, the group had a chance to practice shooting their characters' super powers.

Using the room as the stage, Music directed the students from behind her tripod.

"All of them are so talented," said Music, 29. "There are students here who didn't realize they had the talent until they got here."

Each student in the camp will get a copy of their edited film when the camp ends next Friday. During the second week of the camp, Shanks and Music will teach the kids how to use dry ice and cloud tanks to create illusions for movies.

"Parents are going to be quite impressed with how talented the kids are."

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