When Paula Elias, executive director of Citizen Jane, instructed participants of the annual Camp Citizen Jane to come up with a storyline for a “Please Silence Your Cell Phones” public service announcement, she gave them just one rule.
No showing a crowded movie theater mobbing a person on the phone.
Instead, she challenged each group to create a “no cell phone” PSA based on a genre: Action, horror, comedy.
The result was some pretty creative story lines. One group assigned the “horror” genre showed just how not scary a scary situation can be when Mom calls your cell. Another involved a pirate.
“They are amazing,” Elias said. “The students are responsible for the entire process, from writing the script to filming to editing.”
Camp Citizen Jane lets middle-schoolers from Columbia Public Schools not only learn about filmmaking but also get experience using the equipment.
“We focus on hands-on training from lighting and camera to directing,” Elias said.
This year, 20 students participated in the first session, which included the basics of filmmaking. Eighteen are currently enrolled in the advanced camp, during which students are creating short films as well as the cell phone PSAs. They’ll screen their works at a public showcase at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 3, in Helis Communication Center.
Kylie Williams, a 13-year-old from Smithton Middle School, plans to enter her short documentary to the Citizen Jane Film Festival. The film documents her struggles with eating disorders, a story she hopes will help others.
Other students are finding different types of talents they didn’t realize they had. Ava Mace, 13, of West Middle School, is a “natural director,” Elias said.
Mace said she was surprised to learn how few females actually work in Hollywood.
“Women are super-underrepresented,” she sad. “I hope things change.”
Asked if she’ll help change those trends, Mace said: “I’ll try my best.”
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