Young Filmmakers Show Off Their Work at Festival

     Sixth, seventh and eighth grade students at Anchor Point’s Chapman School are showing their creativity by producing movies. The school hosted a film festival this week.

     Kids, parents and community members all showed up Tuesday night in the Chapman School gym to get a peek at what the students have been working on. Students were showing three live-action films and three animated shorts for the evening’s festivities. Three of those students, Iris Strongheart, Jacob Roberts and Cody Woolsey, were more than happy to talk about the work that went into the films.

     Iris and Cody are in the 7th grade while Jacob is in 8th. The students were able to put the films together during what’s called “Elective Time” during the school day. Students also have had opportunities to learn journalism and Spanish, among other things. But their teacher John Crocker said this is how he wanted to spend the time this year. 

     “Some definitely gravitate toward the performing part of it and some gravitate toward the behind-the-scenes parts of it. And I just let them choose what their roles are going to be. We kind of have to write our own scripts because if we wanted to just do a drama class, it would be hard to find a script to fit the exact number of students we have in each class. Everybody… creates a role that they are comfortable with,” he said.

     Cody and Iris were involved in making animated shorts. But they also helped create a film called “The Big Game.” It’s a silent movie shot in black and white. And as Crocker explained, the kids basically wanted reasons to do goofy things and trip each other. 

     So they made a slapstick comedy about a basketball game full of hijinks. Students were squeezing glue onto the basketball court, which led to one kid getting stuck. They put a rubber band around the net so the ball doesn’t actually go through. And Iris is the one who drops a bunch of tacks onto the floor. The unsuspecting player dribbles the ball onto the tacks, and, as suspected, the ball goes flat.

     “We had scenes to practice. It was a silent video so it didn’t really have any scripts except for what Mr. Crocker, our teacher, put in for the slideshow. It was kind of easy because you just had to act out what we were doing. But with the filming it was kind of hard because you had to get everything order and you had to cut things out,” Iris said.

     That film actually took first place at the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Film Festival last month. The 8th grade film, “Death from the Future,” wound up being too long to submit to the film festival. According to the Chapman School Film Festival program, the film includes “crime-scene experts, sassy detectives, and a plot that features an unexpected twist.”

     Within the first minute of the movie, someone is murdered. The detectives start looking for clues and everything points to an 8-year old named Ezekiel Morton. The detectives are baffled because the boy has an air-tight alibi. Besides, they don’t want to believe he could have committed such an awful act.

     But then, the big reveal during the final minutes of the film shows a grown-up version of Ezekiel Morton, played by Jacob, who traveled to the past to kill the “monster that would have been.” 

     “I really do love writing and acting. It’s something that I really enjoy and I hope to do it in the future,” Jacob said.

     Before the start of the festival, Cody pointed out he wasn’t nervous about showing the films. And he said one of the best parts about making the movies is working with his classmates.

     “They’re easier to work with than most people that I know because they’re easier to understand,” he said.

     The films played to a packed house and Crocker is currently trying to figure out a way to give them a wider audience.