Screen Test Student Fest ‘09

A couple of years ago a young high school student in a nearby suburb wrote his village to say that a town like theirs should have a student film festival. The Village of Schaumburg agreed and Screen Test Student Fest was born. It has been a real pleasure to watch both the festival and the student work mature. This was their third celebration of student creativity and they are planning a fourth. In addition to some clever videos on keeping your classroom green; a Charlie Chaplin syle, silent film; a personal statement against smoking; and a very elaborate WWII battle – here are the four top rated works with a link to the video when I could find one:

Best of Show ($250 cash prize) and Best Animated Film ($100 cash prize): Super Kitten and the Power Pets, directed by Peter Gundling. Is an unbelievably labor intense (9 months!), stop action work that is so well done, it’s hard to believe it was made by a sixth grader.

thewalker_200w.jpg2nd Place ($150 cash prize) and Best Comedy Film ($100 cash prize): The Walker, Directed by Ben Gustafson was my personal favorite. Using a variety of clever shots, this video told the story of a senior citizen’s walker that takes off on an improbable, yet hysterical trip through town after being left in front of a store. After being dragged, bumped and skate-boarded around the business district, it ends up right where it started as the elderly gentleman comes out of the store. Best quote from the filmmakers was that they actually had a stunt walker for the more physical scenes.

3rd Place ($100 cash prize) and Best Dramatic Film ($100 cash prize): Fall Forward, directed by Dane Shubert is a wonderful, visual tour de force as a high school senior deals with his girl friend’s absence. I loved the parallel that he employs between the changing season and the sandals he just can’t give up in spite of the falling temperatures.

Best Experimental Film ($100 cash prize): Baudio (body audio) Directed by Alyse Stolz is a fun use of split screen putting 3 versions of this director/actress on screen as she creates a soundtrack of knuckles cracking, fingers drumming and general fidgeting.

We are indeed lucky to be in a time when the tools are so affordable and commonplace to give our students such a powerful, creative means of storytelling!


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  1. Scott Meech said:

    Nice post Joe… I would really a discussion regarding the skills these kids are improving. Have the students, parents, or teachers talked about the transference of skills into their everyday school work. Obviously, this is tough to calculate but it would be nice to hear about the impact these projects are having on these kids.

    I believe these projects are very valuable and students learn tremendously from doing them. It would be great to have the students present to other students on how they created the projects, etc.

    Thanks for the update and keep up the great work!

  2. Jane said:

    I recently helped a class of 4th graders (including my own) make documentaries about themselves incorporating interviews, photographs, drawings, captions, sound effects, titles, music etc. using iMovie. It turned out well with all the kids producing their own video biography.
    I think what these projects help to teach kids (apart from the technical skills) is how to order and present different kids information. That must be worth something in the world they are growing up in.

  3. Tricia Fuglestad said:

    Thanks Joe for this write up, very nice. I was very impressed with the quality of the movies at the fest to say the least. One thing that made this event really exciting for an educator is that they have the students field questions from the audience about the movie making experience. Talk about authentic assessment! I was so proud of my little 5th grade students answering questions on stage in front of 300 people about storyboarding, mixing audio, and creating special effects in during the video edit. Who cares if they win~they certainly learned.

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