Students create video, learn economic lessons

January 10, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

GREENCASTLE - "The Phat Movie," a product of Phat Philm Productions, is ready to hit the big screen, or at least the Greencastle-Antrim High School auditorium.

The 35-minute video is the product that a company of juniors, seniors and a few sophomores in Jeff Slatoff's economics class had to create, run and make a profit on as part of the course's curriculum.

Last year's class created a company that produced a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the school's gymnasium.

This year, they hit on the movie idea, thanks to seniors Andy Wertner, the director, and Joel Wentz, both 17. Wertner had produced his own movies before.


"We did some brainstorming and came up with the movie," Wertner said.

"The Phat Movie" is a comedy that consists of skits and parodies. Wertner and Wentz wrote the screenplay and rounded up the actors who starred in it.

The students learned a lot about business and a little about censorship.

"We had to cut a few things out of the movie," Wertner said. "Some of it was too hot for Greencastle-Antrim."

"We had to cut more than we liked," said Doug Watson, 17, president of Phat Philm Productions.

So far, about 300 tickets had been sold to students and teachers in the school at $3 each. The movie was being shown this week in the school auditorium.

The goal of the class project is to teach the students how business works, how it's created, what skills are needed to start and run one and how to turn a profit.

The kids created and sold stocks to raise venture capital to pay business expenses. They created an organizational chart and appointed officers and hired staff to run the company.

The students recruited outside consultants from area businesses and financial institutions to visit their classroom and advise them.

Among them were a human resources manager and a sales manager from First National Bank in Greencastle, an advertising sales rep from Dame Broadcasting in Chambersburg, Pa., and the owner of a wedding consulting firm.

Wentz said the consultants were a great help.

"They gave us tips on selling, on how to make people want what you have," Wentz said.

Phat Philm Productions' budget statement showed projected expenses of $1,500.70 and projected income of $1,736 with a net profit of $235.30.

Expenses include printing costs for stock certificates and movie tickets, VHS tapes, auditorium rent, flyers, television advertising, equipment rental, payroll and taxes.

Income from ticket sales was projected at $1,236 and sales of the video, at $5 each, could bring in another $500.

Every student involved in the venture received a salary ranging from 54 cents an hour up to $10 total for executive and management positions.

As company vice president of production, it was Melanie Becker's job to hire and direct a staff of six employees to draft a business plan, work out a marketing plan and the logistics of getting the stock certificates printed and sold and get the business up and running.

"One of the things we learned is that it takes a whole lot of time and work to start up a business," Becker said.

After the movie is shown, videos sold and dividends issued to stockholders, the students' final duty will be to learn how to liquidate a business, Slatoff said.

Any profits left will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The project is part of the Junior Achievement Economics curriculum.

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