Lake Zurich D-95 screens first-ever student film festival
More than 100 people packed Lake Zurich High School’s Performing Arts Center Feb. 14 to watch seven, 5-minute films that were written, produced and directed by District 95 students. | Laura Pavin~For Sun-Times Media
LAKE ZURICH — More than 100 people packed Lake Zurich High School’s Performing Arts Center Feb. 12 to watch seven, 5-minute films that were written, produced and directed by students.
The District 95 Foundation sponsored the district’s first-ever Film Festival with hopes to turn the event into an annual attraction — like a science fair for artistic minds.
“A student that has a passion for science can sort of explore that passion and share it at the science fair,” said Lisa Warren, a District 95 School Board member. “A lot of kids now are doing videos in school for class assignments, and this is a way for them to take it to the next step — where they can be creative and tell the story that they want to tell.”
As a result, pupils at the elementary, middle and high school levels entered mostly comedic short films that were met with bouts of laughter from the audience.
One dramatic film trailer left the audience in suspense, and two Public Service Announcement-like clips encouraged audience members to recycle and use adjectives.
The high school’s studio theatre drama class opened the night with a short skit called “Beauty Fools the Beast: A Tribute to Silent Film,” in which students comically pantomimed a bank robbery involving a thief, a damsel in distress and a hero to save the day.
Fine Arts chair Angela Fortune said the introduction illustrated the evolution of film-making. What once was an elite process has become a more mainstream activity as quality cameras have become available to the masses in the form of cell phones and camcorders.
On behalf of the District 95 Foundation, Warren presented monetary awards to the winning film-makers, selected by judges Dan Ablan of Ablan Gallery, Jim Cairo of Cairo Design Group, and Chris Geimer of Chris Geimer Design.
Sophomore Michael Gallagher took first place in the high school division for “Being Yourself,” a short piece that jumped between shots of Gallagher explaining how viewers could better love themselves, and scenes of him illustrating those points.
In his film, Gallagher stressed the importance of social resilience, but noted that it’s human to ponder one’s standing within a group of peers.
To strengthen that message, he then cut to a scene that students could relate with: “Facebook notification — woah! 80 people ‘liked’ my photo? They must think I’m cute or something! Or maybe they feel bad for me? I’ve got to think about this,” Gallager said while looking at his home computer in the next shot.
Billy Spicer, a fifth-grade teacher at Isaac Fox Elementary School, helped 22 of his students create “Dumpster Divas VS Ragin’ Recyclers” to further encourage environmentally-friendly behaviors.
“We just started brainstorming ideas for community-based messages that we could be putting out there, and came up with the idea,” he said. “They wrote the scripts and collaborated using Google Docs.”
Spicer said he only helped facilitate his students’ vision for the film. The surprise scene in the film was, however, a result of his doing.
He reached out to producers at Comcast, and was able to get a shot of two news anchors from the network reading a “news update” snippet he wrote about Ragin’ Recyclers and Dumpster Divas.
Dean Lambertson, who took first place in the middle school division for “Oh Brother,” already offered plans for his prize money: the purchase of a new camera. He ultimately sees a future for himself in film.
D.J. Young took second place for “How to be a Super Hero” and Anna Galuppo took third place for “Adjectively Gel.”
In the elementary school division, Maeve Griffin took first place for “Children Know Best.” In the high school division, senior Linnea Lueken earned second place for the suspenseful “White Crow Trailer.”