Ever since I was a little kid. I grew up in an era where there were all the old movies on TV;
I loved the movies. My dad worked for the Disney corporation. We lived about a mile from Disneyland so that was kind of my playground, when I was really young (first and second grades). I think that’s what sparked some of the interest. As a child growing up, I don’t know that I really understood that (filmmaking) was a possibility...and I became a teacher, but I was always fascinated by the process of making movies. It’s so amazing to be able to take a story, and bring it to life in all these different dimensions. About 12 years ago, the opportunity became available for anyone to make a movie. The ability to use a computer and a camera, and be your own filmmaker — wow! It was just amazing.
So how did Reel Spirit come about?
In New York City, the Tribeca Film Festival was going on, and they were showcasing high school productions. I walked away from that thinking, ‘We can do this in Kansas City.’ I saw on the kid’s faces how proud they were. I hooked up with a couple of their educators. We all saw the value of the cinematic art... as such a great venue, to learn how to be team players, to take an idea and really flesh it out and see how it comes together. We (Noble and two other teachers, working with gifted kids in three school districts) had taken some workshops, and we had early resources.
What sort of training do you have?
I would learn from other people, and adapt it. Also, my daughter had chosen to go into filmmaking, and I learned from her.
What else do you need to know?
Nowadays, everybody has access to equipment, but you still need to know the basics of how to tell a good story – beginning, middle and end. We’ve all been to movies where it’s great with special effects but there’s no story. You have to know how to break down all those different segments of the story. You learn about camera shots. In the camp, we’ll turn off the sound and talk about ‘what do you already know’ by just watching the screen. It’s not just turning on your camera, it’s what kind of shots — wide shot, close up, timing. The kids see it in a whole different way.
For the Reel Spirit team, it’s not only teaching the filmmaking process, it’s teaching them to be a better audience, able to critically assess what makes a good film. You are learning about camera shots, you’re learning about the process from pre-production to production to post-production. All of the pieces come together in post-production. We also talk about copyright.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of leading Reel Spirit camps?
It’s when the kids recognize there’s more to it than they think to make a movie; then, on the back end, when they say, ‘Oh my gosh, look what I created!,’ and the pride on the faces of these kids when they see it on the big screen. At the end of the camp, we’re there, at UMKC (Reel Spirit partners with the University of Missouri-Kansas City) and they have a big screen. You’ve got the sound, credits, opening, everything. When you see how their faces light up — that’s the payoff.
What do the kids like the most about the camp programs?
Definitely the whole thing about the production. And they get the opportunity to work with kids they don’t know. They make friends and, like in the real world, they learn to come together quickly.
Besides an introduction to production skills, what do participants gain from Reel Spirit camps?
Team building, the science of filmmaking. We really feel like we’re giving them a set of skills that help them in whatever field they choose. They’re putting it to good use in a medium they can use their whole life.
Why do people make films?
To tell a story. Everybody has a story. It’s in our DNA, going back to tribes sitting around a fire, we want to hear stories. The great thing about film is that it’s a visual medium, and a story you can relive over and over again.
Reel Spirit summer camps
This summer, Reel Spirit is offering two camps, Filmmaking 101 and Animation 101. Although slots fill up fast — Filmmaking 101 for this year is already full — kids can still sign up for the animation camp. Both camps are open to kids ages 10-14. Conducted at the UMKC campus, the three-day animation camp guides kids through a stop-motion project that culminates in a screening of the finished product. Cost is $125.
Young Filmmakers Showcase
Open to any filmmaker in grades two through 12, the Young Filmmakers Showcase is a competitive contest in which judges select a first-, second- and third-place honoree from two age divisions; winning films are showcased in an annual screening event. The entry deadline usually falls in February, and filmmakers can choose from several entry categories. For more information on Reel Spirit camps and activities, visit www.kcfilmfest.org/reel-spirit.
From the calendar
Lynn A. Wade is a lifelong resident of the Kansas City area. From museums to sports to concerts and more, she enjoys experiencing the wide variety of activities the city has to offer with her family and friends.