It started out as a regular play date…
Third graders Payton Kozlowski, Seneca Mohr, and Kiran Patel were coming over to be in a movie that Weston Mui had been planning with them for a few weeks. However, the evening before the play date, Weston’s Mom brought up an opportunity she thought he might be interested in… submitting a film to a film festival.
Weston has been interested in all things having to do with filmmaking since second grade. In fact, he makes on average several movies a week. Some are live action and may include friends and family members, some are stop-motion animation, some are slow-motion, some are time-lapse, some are just videos of him learning to do something new - like a new skill in swimming or a new magic trick. Weston loves to use his creativity to explore new skills in filmmaking and editing, as well as new storylines.
So, it was a natural fit to think of some ideas for the Google Educator Group Chicagoland Film Fest #gegchi. The theme this year was “In Another’s Shoes.”
Weston brainstormed Friday evening, after finding out about this film festival, and came up with a storyline and storyboarding for each scene. Since the playdate was the very next day, he knew he would have to count on the actors to do some improvisation, when it came to the dialogue.
The next day, the kids came over and were very excited to join in this new adventure, and they were sure they would have a good chance of winning… even though they had not even begun. Their spirit was contagious. They just knew that their enthusiasm was going to carry them through the next two hours of filming. The students were fantastic actors, and Weston’s Dad even got a small cameo.
After Payton, Seneca, and Kiran left, Weston began the fun task of editing the film on iMovie to meet the GEG Chicagoland Film Fest guidelines. He added special effects, such as split screen, disappearing people and slow-motion, as well as sound effects and music he created on GarageBand Live Loops. The film needed to be under three minutes, so he had to make some tough decisions about what to eliminate from two hours of filming. In the end, the final product was three minutes and four seconds, though that included credits created on Scrolling Credits Pro. Weston was hoping that the credits would not count as part of the three minutes.
All-in-all, the editing took Weston about eight to ten hours, but the time seemed to fly by. He was so excited, he shared the final video with his three friends that very evening, and sent along a copy of the media release from Google, hoping that each parent would give permission for the film to be entered into the film fest. By the following day, Weston had media releases from all three friends. The submission was a go, and so submitted it that very day.
Next came the most difficult part of all - waiting a month to hear back if their film had been accepted into the film fest. Imagine the excitement when the students found out that not only was the film accepted, it won the Grand Prize for Early Elementary in the GEG Chicagoland Student Film Fest 2017-2018. WOW! What an accomplishment!
The film, “A Day in Pete’s Shoes” is a film about being yourself and not trying to be somebody else. It was screened at Google Chicago, along with seven other winning films. These eight films were chosen out of over 200 submissions. The Google Educator Group who organized this event went on to say that you are never too young to make a difference in the world and that young people should have a voice.
It was a wonderful day at Google, where they screened the eight films, handed out beautiful awards to the winning teams, and also offered the students workshops in many different aspects of filmmaking. The student filmmakers were asked to give a 1-minute acceptance speech, and it was amazing the insights these students had to share with the world through their videos. It was a great celebration of our students, who showcased their talents and creativity. This learning experience is one that will be a highlight of their third grade year.
Are you interested in having a similar experience creating a film? A new nonprofit called StudentVoice.org has just launched the Global Student Voice Film Festival, open to students ages 5-18 from around the world. The deadline for the final submission is Monday, April 9, 2018. The finalists of this film fest will be invited to ISTE 2018, the International Society for Technology in Education Conference and Expo, for the official celebration and screening on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. The audience at this screening could be up to 5,000 people.