In a camp that started last Thursday and ends today, the students learned about every step in the complicated process of movie production. The program began with the different aspects of writing for the camera, then progressed to directing, filmmaking, editing and even production.
To ensure that the students get a realistic first-hand look at filmmaking, the camp is mentored by real professionals. Dustin Street, owner of production company Big Small Town Studios, has mentored the Film Camp for five years now.
In a Renaissance Center classroom Thursday, Dustin reviewed what the kids had learned before they left to film an ambitious project in Gray. Some students, who had never been behind the camera before, were nervous but excited about using their new skills.
“The magic happens when you’re on set,” he said. “Let the environment fill you up and put you in those mindsets.”
Those mindsets are the same mindsets as a real production company. For the project, a supernatural thriller called “Hush Little Baby,” the students chose roles from director to costume designer. Since the group was large enough, a smaller team of four students will produce a found footage horror film. While the production teams are student-led, local professional actors will play each film’s characters.
“I’ve never worked on a found footage film before,” said Dustin. “It was an interesting opportunity for me to learn alongside them.”
Ashleigh Radke, director of the found footage project and a rising junior at Sullivan South High School, agrees: “I’m really excited because we’ve never done found footage before — we’re all learning together!” Ashleigh has participated in Film Camp since its very first year and has been in more than 10 theatrical and cinematic productions.
Fittingly, the horror projects will premiere on Friday the 13th. They will be shown at 6 p.m. at the Renaissance Center, then be released on YouTube and eventually on Amazon Prime. The students and actors will each be credited on IMDb, a popular online database of film-related information.
By far, Dustin’s favorite part of the camp is watching the students become more confident in their creative abilities. “What I love more than anything is seeing these kids, who were nervous wrecks at the beginning, walk out confidently when we show the film. It’s like their own little Hollywood, and I’m so glad they get that experience.”
Kailee Harris, a rising senior at Volunteer High School, is the director and the director of photography for “Hush Little Baby.” Both jobs are big roles, but Kailee is confident that the project will be a success. “I think I’ll be able to do it,” she said. “I think it’ll be really good.”