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Young W.Va. filmmakers get screen time

September 10, 2007|By TRISH RUDDER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Famous lines like, "I could have been a contender; I could have been somebody," spoken by Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront" are what many remember when they think of that 1954 movie.

Such audience recognition is something for which good filmmakers strive.

Some local teen filmmakers learned how to work toward that goal this summer through a filmmakers' workshop.

On Sunday, the Star Power Student Short Film Fest was held at Poor House Farm Park, and the students' short films were available to watch.

About 20 students from the Eastern Panhandle attended the Star Power Teen Filmmakers' Workshop in June, instructor Katherine Ryan said.

She and Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School teacher Marianne Tomasic taught the teens how to write scripts, act, direct and operate a camera.

Trevor Smith, 15, a 10th-grader at Hedgesville High, said he directed three segments in the three-week workshop. In his filmmaking future, he wants to direct and write, he said.

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Caitlin Kuria, 13, attends Hedgesville Middle School and likes to write horror stories, she said. She likes author Stephen King.

Zack Clopton, 19, is attending Blue Ridge Community and Technical College. He said he has written about seven screenplays, and he said his goal is to write and direct "my own material."

Keenan Hollida, an eighth-grader at North Middle School, said last year he got an opportunity to help make a film about the Julia-Ann Square historical district in Parkersburg, W.Va. The 14-year-old said he wants to concentrate on directing and visual effects.

His mother, Sharla Campbell, said he has written several short films and even has a "green" screen on his computer.

"It renders visual effects," Hollida said.

"He's very knowledgeable in computer technology and visual effects," said his stepfather, John Campbell. "We're very proud of him. Hopefully, he's my next Bill Gates."

Theresa Smith said her son, Jason Alexander Smith, 18, is studying mass communications at Shepherd University. He has won three awards for his short film, "Neon," she said.

"He came in as an intern and helped the younger students, and he's very talented," Ryan said.

Dylan Hahn, 15, a ninth-grader at Hedgesville High School, said directing was the best part of the workshop, and he intends to become a film director.

"I want to learn," Hahn said.

Ryan said Hahn is the first recipient of the Norma Gene Butler award, because of his outstanding qualities of "leadership, integrity and a passion for filmmaking."

Butler is a Martinsburg resident who is very supportive of the teen filmmakers' workshop, Ryan said.

Ryan said Tomasic was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to make a film in Japan. Ryan went to Romania this summer to make a film on the effects of communism on her extended family there. Both films will be ready in the spring of 2009, she said.

Ryan's son, Elliott, is an eighth-grader at South Middle School. The 13-year-old said he enjoyed the workshop but wants to be an endocrinologist like his father.

Ryan said next summer's program will be refined so that one week will be focused on pre-production, the second week will focus on shooting on location and the third week will find students involved in post-production and editing.

"I want to make the program bigger and better for the students next summer. That's my goal, with more guest lecturers and more locations to see," she said.

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