OUR CORNER: Plateau and Sumner teens belong in pictures
By DANIEL NASH
Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Reporter
July 18, 2011 · 3:55 PM
What would you do if you won the lottery?
It's a game a lot of people play in their own heads, or during fanciful "what if?" conversations with friends. I know I've been playing with it recently.
New house. New car. Free time. All based on pure chance. It's appealing, no? (It's also probably incredibly unhealthy. The more I think about it, the more every day I don't wake up in a five-bedroom house with a golden terlet and a purebred greyhound named Sir Wesley becomes a real stick in the mud.)
At first I thought I had stumbled on what I would definitely do if I won. The new hot-stuff camera system in Hollywood is the RED camera, a digital video system that recreates the quality of film. I'd pick up one or two with all the accessories and spend the rest of my days making low-budget movies that make people say, "This is AWFUL... but it sure looks pretty."
It's all I wanted to do when I was a teenager. I read books on screenwriting and DIY filmmaking. I watched the films of Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez; directors who were almost unprecedented in their willingness to talk about how their movies were made. The movies were good, not great, but they had an overall sense of "I could do that."
Anyway, we have an empty lot across from the Courier-Herald office. One day when I didn't feel like working, I was staring at this gravelly nothing, pondering what-ifs until I came to this thought: "How sick would it be to have a movie theater that only showed local independent movies?"
And not just a movie theater, but an independent movie-making headquarters. People could come in, check out a camera, rent time at an editing station or attend workshops on screenwriting, special effects, visual effects, lighting and makeup. Students could use the resources for free or at a heavy discount, and adults could use it for an accessible fee. And when all was said and done, their handiwork would premiere on a big silver screen, as movies should.
The idea would be to help the students who dream big, but don't have a camera or the time in their school schedule for a video production elective, to become the AV nerds they always knew they could be. Similar nonprofit organizations have been operated (and often gone under) before in areas like Echo Park, Los Angeles.
But there's talent, too, in the schools on the Plateau and in Sumner. Both the Bonney Lake and Sumner high school Senior Showcases were organized around professional or near-professional level video bios featuring the honorees. The producer of the Sumner High School video, Blake Fealy, was also a showcase honoree based on his work with the video morning announcements. As I mentioned in my last Our Corner, Sumner has also had a teen-made zombie flick shot on residential West Main Street (If only it could have included the inferno from last week's East Pierce training burn. THAT would have been a cool background piece).
And at Enumclaw High School, Doug Wolff's video production students are already breaking into show business via pro bono commercials for salesmen at Fugate Ford. They produced one in March and there are tentative plans to continue the partnership.
Unlike game design, which is just beginning to make its way into campuses like Mountain View Middle School, video production has had a decade or two to germinate in districts with the resources for the equipment and qualified instructors. It's an involved process that can either be the most fun you have while running yourself ragged, or more tedious than the most tedious school project you can imagine in another class.
I, for one, think it's a perfect fit for the young multitasking generation: a competent director has to be an artist, a craftsman, an engineer and a people-person, sometimes all at once. It's a crash course in applying previously learned academic skills and a way to learn a few new skills.
One can only imagine what additional talent would come out of the woodwork if there were more opportunities outside of the classroom.
I'm still holding out for my lucky numbers, but I wonder: is what I want really limited to the reckless whims of a bottomless bank account? Or is there room for a modest approach—perhaps a summer film festival—for all the teens with silver screen dreams?Contact Bonney Lake-Sumner Courier-Herald Reporter Daniel Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-825-2555 ext. 5060.