The high school students at the 2009 P.O.V. (Point-of-View) Youth Filmmaker Program are shooting a scene over and over inside Au Bon Pain in Washington D.C. on a hot Saturday afternoon in August. The director calls for quiet on the set then says action. A crew member out of the camera’s frame playfully shoves the actress playing a waitress into the scene.
The actress stumbles in front of her customers and has trouble keeping a straight face as she delivers her lines. The crew tries not to laugh but knows that the scene is already messed up. The director forces a grin as he says cut while the entire crew erupts into laughter. Making a movie is a lot of hard work but for these students, it is also a lot of fun.
For six consecutive Saturdays the teenagers, ranging from 16 to 19, spent a good chunk of their day in a Washington D.C. studio and its vicinity filming and learning the art of filmmaking. This is the third year that DC APA Film has held the workshop, led by Grace Choi, Jenny Kim, Gina Rhee, Mike Song and Chris Tsou. The short film will be part of the 10th Annual Film Festival held on October 1 to October 10, 2009 at various venues in D.C.
“Being able to work together with everyone, it’s been exciting,” says Beomsik Lee, a 12th-grader at Richard Montgomery High School (Rockville, MD) who is considering the Academy of Art in San Francisco after graduating. For him and the students, this is their first experience making a movie.
“I’m going to make up a word: fantastical,” says Amy Hosseinnian when asked to sum up the experience. The crew jokingly warns to be careful of her because they say she won’t stop talking. “She’s a sound bite machine,” teased another.
Rewarding, educating and unforgettable were other words used by the students to describe the program.
“When people asks us ‘What did you do in the summer?’ we can say that we made a movie,” Amanda Lew of Thomas Jefferson High School (Alexandria, VA) says proudly, though she seems a little sad when told that this particular Saturday was the last day of the program.
Beomsik and Hans Li spent part of the day editing footage while the rest of the crew was filming at Au Bon Pain. APA’s Mike Song is in the editing room checking out the footage. “Who wants to see what we have?” he says as the students are eating lunch at the Ventana Productions dining area. They put down their cheese sticks and lasagna and huddle around the computer screen in the editing room.
They watch the first couple of scenes and everyone laughs at a hilarious moment during the second scene. Mike informs the students that the footage is very raw and that additional editing, sound mixing and music are still needed. He really didn’t have to say this because the students knew it. Some were offering suggestions on how to make the scene better. It was obvious how much the students cared about their project.
“It’s amazing to see their creativity and imaginations take life,” says Mike. “As instructors, we fill up their gas tanks, start them up, but once they start going, watch out!”
“I was so encouraged to see their enthusiasm for learning about filmmaking,” says APA’s Gina Rhee.
The P.O.V. workshop covered many topics involved in pre-production, production and post-production. Students learned about directing, editing, cinematography, producing, storyboarding, lighting, makeup and many other techniques. “I like directing and AD (assistant director) the best,” says Amy of Richard Montgomery High School. “I like bossing people around,” she says half-jokingly.
Guests filmmakers Michael Kang and Gi Young Rhee also stopped by to instruct the students.
Besides having terrific instructors, another main reason why this year’s workshop was a success is because of the great chemistry the students have with each other. After spending only a few hours with them, one could immediately tell that they truly enjoy being with each other. “It was a treat to see how well they connected and worked together,” says Gina Rhee.
“The camaraderie among the students is unbelievable this year. From the very first day they just immediately clicked and it totally snowballed from there,” says Mike Song. “And it’s not just the kids that are having fun, the instructors have a blast too. It’s a lot of work, but there are few things that we do each year that even come close to being as rewarding as this little program. It’s good for the soul.”
The students are looking forward to DC APA’s 10th Annual Film Festival in October because they’ll get to see their work on the screen.
“I’d be both thrilled and nervous at the same time,” Beomsik says. “Since this is my first film that I helped direct, it would be pretty amazing to have it on the big screen.”
The 2009 POV Class:
Amy Hosseinnian – Richard Montgomery HS, Rockville, MD
Beomsik Lee – Richard Montgomery HS, Rockville, MD
Amanda Lew – Thomas Jefferson HS, Alexandria, VA
Hans Li – Richard Montgomery HS, Rockville, MD
Tru Nguyen – Lake Braddock HS, Fairfax, VA
Lynh Tran – Chantilly HS, Chantilly, VA
Clark Wright – Richard Montgomery HS, Rockville, MD
Emily Yu – Richard Montgomery HS, Rockville, MD
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