by Amy K. Lavender

Many young students may say, “I want to be a director when I grow up!” Few of those students actually have the chance to spend a week directing their own movie from start to finish, getting a first-hand look behind the scenes. However, area students got that exact opportunity this summer by participating the University of West Georgia’s School of the Arts (SOTA) Film Camp.

Hosted by SOTA, the camp gives local students between the ages of 13 and 18 the chance to work with faculty from the College of Arts and Humanities’ Film Studies program and find out just what film making is all about.

“The camp is devised not just to prepare students for college-level film studies, but also to get them on the ground making their own films from the age of 13,” said Director of COAH Film Studies Erin Lee Mock. “So it’s about creativity and making artists of young people and letting them explore a number of different skills they may need to complete their own work. Here, they get the chance not only to shoot and write, but also to sit down and edit and do a little post production work. So by the end of the camp, they’ve composed a work that’s all their own.”

Students spent a week writing, acting, directing, and editing for their projects. Films ranged in content from stop-motion to live-action. But students didn’t work alone on their films. They took a team approach to editing scripts, lining up shots, and rounding out the casts for each other’s projects, and gave each other a helping hand during post-production.

“It’s great because it has that kind of workshop feel even though they are just learning,” Erin said. “So they get that feel of being in a community of artists.”

Camp participant Sophia Newell said having the support of the other camp goers helped her get through her first film production successfully.

“It’s kinda hard,” she said, “but it makes it fun when you have friends and a great teacher to help you.”

Robert James, who was also taking part in the camp, said he would highly recommend it to other students looking to get their feet wet in film.

“If you really want to get into filmmaking, and you’re just getting started and don’t have any editing programs, come here,” he said. “They’ll help you out. You’ll learn programs, make connections with people, and help each other out with your films. You may not learn everything right away, but the connections you’ll make will be priceless.”

Art professor and Camp Director Casey McGuire says while it is important for students to learn the basics and mechanics of film, she also hopes to help them find their own creative voice.

“I really enjoy seeing them find themselves and giving them the college experience in some ways,” she said. “Giving them the freedom to pursue something on their own, and to do their own shooting on their own time with their own creative screen writing, helping them see how that manifests itself into a final film, for me, that’s so rewarding.”

Video by Eric Nauert

Posted on July 15, 2016