Bright green smoke billows from smokestacks at Teck, zombies are on the hunt, and School District 20 (SD20) students created it all.
Fred Nock, a Kootenay Columbia Learning Centre (KCLC) online teacher, made a presentation at the SD20 board meeting on June 22, sharing the success of the Living Landscapes project – a week-long film making workshop for students from anywhere in the district.
In May, the group of 15 students created three short films in just under a week, starting with writing scripts and shooting scenes and finishing up with editing and special effects for a polished final product.
The KCLC teacher told trustees all about the alternative learning environment and how it gave the students a chance to explore new skills in broadcast and moviemaking, all while learning curriculum-based information.
“We had teens in there writing, creating, storyboarding, looking at English language concepts like story structure, visual and art concepts, different shots, audio concepts and levels, performance, drama, technical and computer skills,” he shared, adding that the project was all about independence and collaboration. “The wonderful thing about film is that the kids teach each other. When there was a problem, they didn’t come to us teachers first. They would turn to each other.”
Ollie Flick attended the course and worked on editing and special effects on “The Walking Lead: Zombo Combo,” one of the three short films that came out of the workshop. He said working on the project helped him teach others about the technical side of filmmaking, something he did in his spare time anyways.
“At the beginning, while we were doing the idea board, I felt a connection with camera work and I connected with editing on the computer, while some people went to the writing,” he said, adding that he was excited to put skills into practice that wouldn’t normally get taught in a classroom. “It was really good to apply. Some of that stuff they don’t teach at school and it was cool to teach to the other kids when they probably wouldn’t have been taught to do that kind of stuff.”
Debbie Flick, Ollie’s mother, was also at the board meeting, and says she could see a noticeable difference in her son during and after the workshop.
“I noticed with my own son, that was a week, including the Saturday, where I didn’t have to wake him up,” she told trustees. “He was ready to go on his own. I noticed that it doesn’t change the world, but it is a step forward. I have seen an increased commitment to his school studies after that week. As a parent, it was very worthwhile.”
The “Zombo Combo” movie was played at the meeting for trustees and attendees and got a few laughs with zombies running around Trail and Teck Trail Operations before being killed off by the film’s hero.
Darryl Ganzert, board chair and Beaver Valley trustee, believes that filmmaking provides students with an opportunity to learn even if they are having trouble in the classroom.
“I think you have really struck on something here that meets the needs of a lot of students whose needs are not being met right now,” he said, adding that he fully supports more programming like it. “This is where education is going. This is what the new education plan envisions and Fred, what you are doing is showing us what quality education is going to look like in the future.”
Teri Ferworn, trustee for Area I and Area J, says she would like to see filmmaking as education and creative outlet take off, and even rival some of the summer workshops held in other Kootenay communities.
“I would love to see something like (a film festival) happen in this community, starting with this,” she said, adding that she really enjoyed the screening of “Zombo Combo.”
“I know that we lose a lot of students during the summer to Nelson for the film program they have there. It would be great to have something like that locally.”
To view the three short films written, directed, shot and edited by SD20 students visit thecinematheque.ca/education/living-landscapes.