Young Movie Makers is starting our second semester on January 22 at Culver City Middle School. This year we've transitioned from an after-school program and have found a home in the Academic Language Development class during the school day. This class helps advanced English Language Learners develop their English speaking skills. YMM is going to enhance the classroom curriculum by involving the Middle Schoolers in the process of writing, producing, and editing a film with their peers. They're working in groups of 4 students and each group has two volunteer mentors from the Culver City High School / AVPA Film Department.
Last semester, we spent time introducing the young filmmakers to the idea of telling their own personal story. For example, we talked about documentaries, and the students filmed introductory interviews of each person in their group. What do the kids talk about when we ask them to introduce themselves? Well, I would be lying if I said videos games don't come up. Lots of students say they like to play video games, but when we ask them what else they like to do, we find out some fun facts. In the class we have surfers, skaters, readers, writers, dancers, soccer players and more.
As with any class, this group of middle schoolers has a great mix of enthusiastic participators and terrified non-participators. One of the most rewarding parts of the YSF program is watching shy students gain confidence and begin to craft their story, so it will be very exciting to see this particular class of students at the end of the year.
We spent the entire first semester writing film scripts and when we return this semester we will tackle pre-production, filming, and editing. Stay tuned to see four fantastic films written, directed, and produced by the students from Culver City Middle School. Coming to YouTube this Spring!
Brian Sonia-Wallace is an alumnus of El Marino Language School, Culver City Middle School, and Culver City High School. In high school he joined the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (AVPA) in the Theatre Department. With the AVPA, Brian apprenticed with Korean director Cheolseung Kim, took classes with Tim Robbins' The Actors' Gang, and went to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Inspired by his experience, Brian applied to colleges in Scotland and was accepted to the University of St Andrews, one of the top 5 UK schools. He studied Sustainable Development abroad for four years and ran his own small theatre company in the UK before returning to the US in 2011. After two years working in community development and social justice in East LA and in Ecuador, Brian has returned to his native Culver City as Development Associate at The Actors' Gang, raising funds for the group's socially charged theatre and community work. Brian is excited to be back in his home town and even able to bike to work.