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Film bus poses possibilities

Bowman High School students get hands-on film lessons

Posted: November 26, 2009 8:05 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Clifton Parish, top right, shows a group of Bowman High School students short films made by other students onboard the mobile lab.

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With a smile on his face, Clifton Parish stood in front of about 20 Bowman High School students and called on them to give him their best Facebook and MySpace poses.

“What would that look like?” Parish asked the students Tuesday as a fast-paced dance song pumped through the packed RV-sized mobile classroom parked outside the continuation high school.

The students turned to their Apple workstations and channeled their inner models — out came smiles and giggles, pouted lips, hand signs and funky poses.

The students were posing for Photo Booth, an Apple computer program that turns workstations into personal photo studios for people to take, edit and upload snapshots.

Parish, director of education for the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education, was their instructor for about an hour. He encouraged students to explore editing programs like Photo Booth and learn basic computer editing and filmmaking skills.

“The focus is letting them tell their own stories and letting them know that their stories matter,” said Manon Banta, educational outreach coordinator for the institute.

The hands-on program, which came to the Santa Clarita Valley with help from the K-12 Arts Education Outreach Program spearheaded by the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center, is designed to bring filmmaking tools to classrooms around Southern California.

The program is geared toward at-risk students who might not have the opportunity to explore film editing at school.

The classroom will come back to the Santa Clarita Valley on Dec. 17 to visit Stevenson Ranch and Bridgeport elementary schools, where students will receive hands-on video editing lessons.

Students are already using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to communicate with their peers and computer editing programs to create YouTube videos, Banta said. The program just gives kids a formal training on how to master the computer programs and build a skill set for their future careers.

That goal was evidenced by 19-year-old senior Scott Ibbotson who spent a class period playing around with Photo Booth.
He said he’s worked with computers before, but Tuesday was the first time he’d worked on advanced computer programs and applications.

The experience gave Ibbotson a new perspective on his future as he now considers a career in film making.

“This has opened my eyes up a lot more,” Ibbotson said.

The mobile classroom visit, a first for Bowman, comes after 50 Bowman students recently spent four weeks in the “Film Institute Boot Camp,” where Keith Lawrence, the president and CEO of the Mary Pickford institute, worked with students to create short films and documentaries about their lives.

The school hosted an outdoor screening at the high school’s quad for an audience of more than 100 students and supporters last week.

The film festival gave Bowman students, who often have complicated personal lives, a chance to show who they really are.

“In the arts, they can find ways to express their hopes and dreams,” Principal Robin Geissler said.

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