07.31.13 | Mason Kerwick
Hi, I’m Mason, a senior studying Strategic Communication through the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. I have been interning underneath Barb and Linzy in the Executive Department this summer, and we’ve become so close that I’ve started referring to the Austin Film Festival as the Austin Film Friends. (Just kidding.)
Over the past few weeks I’ve had the distinct pleasure of getting to instruct kids through AFF’s Summer Film Camps. Much like the festival itself, AFF’s camps aim to cultivate quality storytelling in films. Over the course of a five-day filmmaking workshop, campers learn the fundamentals of making a film from pre-production to post-production in a fun and engaging environment. But, since we are talking about 9-12 year olds, this means scripts written on construction paper and using bananas in lieu of guns. (Note: AFF has several teen film camps, but I did not assist with instructing those.)
Given the age of the boys enrolled in camp, the scripts that emerged from their brainstorming sessions generally featured some sort of monster/zombie/alien/girl and several explosions, while others focused on the mystery of a missing pencil. (Spoiler: a maniacal rubber duck took it.) I’m not saying groups with girls made films with more character development, but I’m not not saying that either.
Midway through the day came snack time, a moment where the campers showed their true passion, at least for the moment, was food, not film. We practically had a strike on our hands when we ran out of juice boxes one day. Evidently filmmaking burns a lot of calories, or something. (Perhaps this is why the Film & Food party, a fancy AFF party celebrating, you guessed it, film and food, is the main fundraiser for the Young Filmmakers Program.)
By the end of the week every group of aspiring filmmakers had made a two to three minute short film. Despite their brief running time, each film managed to capture the unique voices of the kids who helped create it from script to screen. And how unique some of those voices were. But the sheer joy radiating from each campers face upon viewing their completed film caused me to proclaim it the best film I’d ever seen. Yes, it was highly sentimental of me to make such bold remarks, but these kids made a film from their own idea and it was just so inspiring to watch the positive effect it had on them.
There have been numerous moments worthy of recollection, but my favorite memory was a statement a camper made after we had been editing for about 15 minutes: “This whole editing thing has really made me rethink my dream of becoming a cinematographer.” Point taken.
There will be a screening of the films made in AFF’s summer camps this Sunday at the Galaxy Highland Theater where parents, campers, and family members will be treated to a free screening to see the fruits of their labor.
– Mason Kerwick