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Students Double Fun at Canyons District Film Festival

Jul 01, 2016 09:43AM ● Published by Julie Slama

Sunrise Elementary’s Parker sisters won Best Elementary Documentary for their film, “Illusions,” at the seventh annual Canyons District Film Festival. — Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | julie@mycityjournals.com


Nine-year-old Liam Morgan has read a director’s handbook several times, knows how to create a storyboard, has written scripts and has experience in creating movies. This all came to play when his two entries won top honors at the seventh annual Canyons District Film Festival.

“I’ve done a couple movies last year and this year, but I still plugged my ears,” Liam said. “When I opened my eyes and saw my name as the winner, I thought, ‘yes!’”

Liam, who attends Brookwood Elementary, won the elementary public service announcement for his film, “Fire Safety Rules!” and animation category for his submission, “Imagination Food!” On April 21, he received film canister trophies and a bag of prizes, including a GoPro camera.

Other categories for both elementary and secondary students include newscast, documentary, feature film and poster contest. There are also teacher film and American Graduate categories.

“American Graduate was new this year,” Katie Blunt, district education technology specialist, said. “They approached us and wanted to be part of the film festival so there were awards in what a champion is, student success stories who have overcome challenges and those who have helped motivate others to graduate. And for the first time, we will be showing films on UEN this summer.”

Another change was eliminating the advertising category.

“We liked the real-world application, working with clients and combining that with creativity. A lot of students learned to be responsible for what they produced. But it was more of a timing factor since students needed to start in the fall, and then it was a continuous struggle of students meetings with businesses,” she said.

This year, 426 people in 28 schools submitted 156 entries, up from just four years ago when there were only 50 entries, Blunt said, who has been the project lead of the film festival for the past four years.

“More schools are getting involved through classes, techniteer troops, newscasts and faculty are encouraging students to enter. Students learn filmmaking skills that they may apply later in classes or on their own. They’re learning creativity and offering new ways to present information, communication skills and learning organizational skills through putting together films so they make sense. If they work with others, teamwork is a big part of it,” she said.

Blunt said that through the film festival, students are learning how to revise and receive feedback to make improvements.

“I love to see the learning process. They may make over their film several times, receive feedback, revise, submit and learn still more ways to improve. When they resubmit and are willing to work hard to improve and learn, that’s huge,” she said.

 Canyons School District spokesman and film festival emcee Jeff Haney said films are intertwined in people’s lives.

“Films can leave an indelible mark on our lives,” he said. “We remember the way a person looks at another. We remember beautiful scenery or costumes. Some characters are so intriguing that we wish they were real so we could be their friends or family. But nothing is more memorable than a good line. Remember ‘Luke, I am your father,’ from the  ‘Empire Strikes Back.’ Or how about, ‘You can’t handle the truth!’ from ‘A Few Good Men.’ Or, ‘Show me the money!’ from ‘Jerry Maguire.’ And ‘There’s no place like home,’ from the infamous ‘Wizard of Oz.’”

Haney said that through the film festival, students may launch themselves into future careers.

“Someday, one of them may be as big as Spielberg (and, maybe, as rich as Oprah),” he said.

For Liam, it’s the joy of creating films.

“I want to know what the movie is about, figure out the details, make the storyboard, write the scripts. I used to create movie covers and now I’m learning more. I learned how to make stop motion with Google Pictures and iMovie for my animation film and I added comedy with my little sister Chloe dressed up in a firefighter costume for my PSA,” he said.

Liam was given a movie-making kit when he was four and his mother, Lacey, said he read it several times.

“He has a real active imagination and loves to write and draw,” she said.  “He always has ideas on what films he wants to make and how he’s going to start his own movie company.”

Sunrise Elementary sisters Amber and Elena Parker won Best Elementary Documentary for their film, “Illusions.”

“We wanted to do it together and had fun doing it,” Elena said about the first time she’s entered the film festival.  

 Fifth-grader Amber said they got interested in illusions from watching an episode of “Brain Games” on television that addressed the topic.  

“I liked how they talked about illusions so we researched online to understand why the brain looks at illusions and why some work in black-and-white and some work in color,” she said.

Fourth-grade sister Elena said that the brain recalls experiences to help it understand.

“We used vacation pictures from our travels in the summer and the brain is able to look back at those to determine what we already know,” she said.

With their film festival award, the sisters aren’t planning to put down their camera soon. Already they are talking about working with their cousins on next year’s entries.

Other Sandy school film festival winners include for Best Elementary Newscast Category, Quail Hollow’s newscast news and film crew Dylan Melchior, Ellie Whitmore, Sadie Cole, Chesney Chin, Reagan Manwaring, Isaac Hanson, Connor Johns, Maci Nydegger, Elizabeth Sheffield, Jonothan Hyde, Jacqueline Smingler, Benjamin Keefer and Camron Domm; Best High School Documentary, “True Life: I’m Addicted to Puns” by Kenna Draper and Maya Thayne, Jordan High; Best Elementary Feature, “Doggie Dreams” by Abigail Slama-Catron, Sunrise Elementary; and Best High School Feature, “Rotten Apples,” by Wesley Syphus, Jordan High.   λ

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