Photo by Director of Publicity & Social Media Christian Nelson
Q&A compiled by Pflugerville senior Rhonda Huynh and Pflugerville sophomores Leah Briggs and Andrew Sharp
The following is a Q&A with several of the Cinema Du Cannes Project students who competed in this year’s SXSW Film Youth M.A.F.I.A. Day Festival, a state-wide 24-hour film festival for high school students.
Two groups of CDCP students received awards for their films. The Best Editing Award went to “The Key to Congress Avenue,” a film produced by Hendrickson senior co-director Alexis Campanile, Hendrickson sophomore sound recordist Rachel Garza, Hendrickson senior co-producer Sarah “Norway” Hudson and Pflugerville sophomore co-director Paige Marshall.
All of the completed films were screened March 14 in the Vimeo Theater at the Austin Convention Center.
What was the agenda throughout the day?
Alexis Campanile: “We got our genre and prop, then we had to come up with a story idea, and began location scouting. We started filming, which took about 6 hours, then edited. We stayed there all day. When they say 24 -hour day, they mean 24 hours.”
How did you come up with the idea of your film?
Sara “Norway” Hudson: “Basically, we just said our ideas and would bounce [them] off each other and build from other ideas while filming. It just kind of came together. It was all improv basically.”
How well did your team work together, and what do you think of the final product?
Carlos Medina: “I believe my team worked well together. We didn’t finish it [the film], but we got a lot of the shots we wanted and are going finish. We’re going to edit it, compose the music, do color correction, and edit the sound.”
What was the most challenging part of M.A.F.I.A.?
Paige Marshall: “Editing. Our [film] was 8 minutes, and we had to cut it to 5 minutes. We didn’t really finish until 8:30 in the morning. We were supposed to finish at 8.”
What was your overall M.A.F.I.A. experience like?
Hudson: “It was a lot of fun, but kind of stressful because we had to do so much in so little time. And it was cold. It was freezing outside, and we were in the rain for three to four hours filming without an umbrella because the camera would pick up [the sound of] the rain hitting the umbrella. It actually made the film look better though.”
What did you learn from M.A.F.I.A.?
Hudson: “You have to be sure the story flows and makes sense and is not going too fast. It all made sense to us because we knew what the story was about, but we had to think about the audience’s point of view. Our film came out a little fast-paced and kind of confusing in the end.”
What award did you win, and what was your reaction?
Campanile: “We won best editing. It was really cool because there were several groups there. I didn’t think that we would get an award, but we worked for it. Paige said she didn’t get any sleep for it, so kudos to Paige.”
Photo by Pflugerville High School senior Bryana Peoples
Story Pflugerville High School sophomore Andrew Sharp
Teenagers are using technology in all kinds of ways. They’re using it to talk to their friends online or by phone. They’re also using it to be creative.
Dr. S. Craig Watkins, an associate professor in the Radio-Television-Film department at the University of Texas at Austin, is studying how young people use new media technologies. Watkins is especially interested in the kinds of skills that students develop to create and tell their own stories through digital media.
Some of Watkins’ research is being done with Connally High School video students.
“I am part of an international team of researchers that are interested in learning more about the ways in which students are learning new ways of expressing themselves, communicating with peers, and creating media content with new kinds of technologies,” said Watkins, a Distinguished Speaker at this year’s SXSWedu Festival.
Watkins’ research project began in the summer of 2011 with the Velocity Prep program.
“In that program, students worked in teams to design video games that explored the ‘green design’ aspects of AMD’s new Lone Star Campus,” Watkins said. “ Our work has extended into the academic year and has involved working with three technology-oriented classes and the (Connally) Digital Media Club and Cinema Du Cannes Project.”
Connally senior and CDCP Production Manager Carlos Medina has been an active participant in the research project since November. He hopes the research will change the way some teachers think about how technology is used in the classroom.
“(Teachers) think we’re playing games and just messing around on Facebook,” Medina said. “They think we’re using (technology) for something else other than, say, a math question.”
Watkins hopes the project “helps society better understand the power of technology and why it is an important part of the lives of young people and the 21st century.”
Watkins’ research will be published in a series of journal articles this summer. Watkins also publishes some of his thoughts related to the project on his website.
Photo by Pflugerville sophomore Eli Berke
Q&A by Pflugerville sophomore Leah Briggs
Students of the Cinema Du Cannes Project were invited to attend the 2012 Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards on March 8 at the Moody Theater in downtown Austin. They were granted access to celebrities on the red carpet and shot behind-the-scenes footage throughout the three levels of the theater. The following is a Q&A with Pflugerville senior Rhonda Huynh and Connally senior Ulyses Castellanos, who had the opportunity to interview celebrities such as Danny Trejo, Meat Loaf, Douglas McGrath, Brett Cullen and John Paul DeJoria.
What was it like to have the opportunity to speak with the celebrities at the red carpet event?
Rhonda: “Honestly, I was real nervous at first because there were so many other professional reporters and photographers right beside me, and I knew that the celebrities weren’t going to answer everyone’s question. I was afraid that being a student restricted my opportunity to have my question answered.”
What kind of questions did you ask?
Rhonda: “I asked the celebrities what their opinion was of using filmmaking as a learning tool in education and what advice would they give to young filmmakers that plan on pursuing a career in the film industry.”
What was the overall experience like?
Rhonda: “Seeing celebrities in real life is much different than seeing them on TV. The men and women I spoke to had a lot to say and gave insightful answers which gave the students in our project lots of advice for the future and how lucky we are to have a program like this one allowing us to experience the world of film in a hands-on approach.”
How did you prepare for the interview portion of the red carpet event?
Ulyses: “I remember when we got there and I told her, ‘Just be aggressive, do what you have to do, and I will just follow you. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be with a camera behind you.’”
Connally video technology instructor and Cinema Du Cannes Project co-founder Humberto Perez was one of 10 international nominees for the 2012 Dewey Winburne Community Service Award. Winburne, one of the original co-founders of the SXSW Interactive Festival, was a teacher and an advocate of using digital technology to educate at-risk youth. Perez accepted the award during a ceremony at St. David’s Church on March 11. The following is the speech Perez gave at the ceremony:
Wow! I would like to first thank SXSW, and Hugh Forrest. I am the co-founder & executive director of the Cinema Du Cannes Project, along with my good friends and colleagues – Dana Glover and Michelle Carter. For the past fourteen years I’ve taught in Title I schools, with students from low socio-economic backgrounds. As a Latino artist who overcame similar challenges, I know firsthand how minorities are discouraged from pursuing the arts. With the Cinema Du Cannes Project, we are changing this. Our nonprofit teaches students the art of digital storytelling, entrepreneurship, and most importantly, how to run an organization.
I am deeply honored to be a Dewey Award nominee. We are ALL doing remarkable work to evolve with dignity as humans on this planet. I accept this award for myself and on behalf of all the committed individuals with whom I work. Cinema Du Cannes is a collaborative effort by my colleagues Michelle, Dana, David Robb, Belva Sheport, and Rakeda Irwin. As well as, the Pflugerville School District and Mr. Charles Dupre, and my former students – Irving, Christian, Mireydi and Johnny. Special thanks to my principal, Daniel Garcia, and instructional coordinator Kathryn Ives and friends in the business community – Steve Amos, Carl Settles, Rosa Santis, CapMac, Nancy Gravely and Michael Sidoric, Juan Orozco, Vanessa Jones, and many, many more.
Most importantly, I have to really thank my better half, Vanessa, for all her love, support, and dedication. Together we share the belief that all humans deserve to live a dignified and fulfilling life.
Story by Connally senior Lucha Lyra
In addition to the responsibilities that accompany her role of co-director for the Cinema Du Cannes Project short narrative film “Carney’s Darkness,” Pflugerville High School sophomore Paige Marshall has her own production company to manage.
“I’m a videographer,” Marshall said. ”If you come to me with a message, I can get it out there.”
The purpose of “Just Press Play” is to provide her clients with quality videos that convey a message or promote an idea. Marshall’s company is not limited to any specific genre or category of project.
“I’m open to basically anything,” Marshall said.
Marshall, 16, is currently working with about 40 different doctors. Her videos, which are featured on the Central Texas OB/GYN Associates website, allow clients to familiarize themselves with the doctors in order to decide which fits them best.
“Patients can visit the website and choose the doctor they’d feel most comfortable with,” Marshall said.
While working with these doctors, Marshall has been frequently asked how someone her age is capable of starting her own business and competing with experienced adults.
“There are a lot of people out there I’m competing with,” Marshall said. “Since I’m an amateur, the pay rate is lower than what most professionals would be getting. It’s like an internship.”
Though new to such projects, Marshall makes sure to maintain a serious attitude and composure while working with her adult clients.
“[They] always seem shocked that I’m able to sit with them and have such a professional conversation,” she said.
The Central Texas doctors are the only clients Marshall has worked with thus far.
“But I am excited for future projects,” she said.