Mustang filmmakers showcase their work
April 22, 2014
Students in Sharon Maddux’s class at Treasure Mountain Junior High couldn’t sit still as she asked them about the progress of their music videos. From "Selfie" by The Chainsmokers to "I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister, Maddux’s eighth- and ninth-grade students were excited to finish their projects for the Mustang Filmmakers Showcase next Tuesday, April 29.
Maddux’s class has Hi-Definition video cameras equipped with SD cards, MacBook Pro laptops, green-screen set-ups and light boxes at their disposal. She said the projects the students have created with the equipment will far surpass anyone’s expectations.
"I think people kind of minimize what 13- and 14-year-olds can accomplish, and if they come to the showcase and see what they’ve created, they will be pleasantly surprised and entertained," Maddux said. "I don’t know if there are any other junior high schools that have programs like this."
The film program at Treasure Mountain was started by Maddux about five years ago. Her late husband, Christopher Maddux, established the television and film program at Park City High School in the late 1980s, and they designed the junior high program together as a sort of feeder for the program at the high school.
What started as a one-section program now offers six sections with 160 students, Maddux said. It was a screenwriting class at first, but now it is film production. Students learn how to complete projects using three phases: writing a script, storyboarding and delving into production.
It is a project-based program that relies heavily on group work. Students assign each other to "crew positions," and when they are done filming, they return to the classroom to edit the film. Maddux said she tries to lay the foundations for their filming by teaching them about camera work, including shots and angles.
Projects completed in the class include narrative no-dialogue films, green-screen projects, stop-motion films and music videos. The best are shown to the school during morning announcements, so the entire student body is able to watch them. However, Maddux said the students’ parents rarely get to see their children’s work, no matter how often she tells her students or how many times she tells her students’ parents to ask their children to share them.
"This showcase allows the parents to come in and see the work these kids do," she said. "Now they’ll get to see and spend 90 minutes watching what we have accomplished this year. I just know they’ll be amazed and blown away by the quality of the work."
Maddux said a film festival is a competition with a panel of judges who choose which films make the cut, but a showcase is simply a display of work with no competition involved. She is choosing which projects will be shown during the 90-minute program and has already compiled 70 minutes, leaving only 20 minutes for the best music video projects.
Students who want to enter a competition are invited to submit their work to the Miner Film Festival, the competition held at the high school. Maddux said at least one student makes it into the competition every year, and the work displayed there by high school and junior high students is commendable.
In fact, she said her students are so innovative and creative that she is currently taking film classes at the University of Utah to keep up with them. Her son Devon is also taking film classes at Emerson College in Boston. A product of his late father’s television and film program at the high school, Devon hopes to become a producer and go into the business side of film.
Maddux and her son pay tribute to her late husband in that way while the high school pays tribute during the Miner Film Festival. Maddux is also honoring him by holding the Mustang Filmmaker Showcase on the third anniversary of his death.
"He passed right after the film festival three years ago," she said. "He managed to pull that off and went into the hospital the next day. They’ve done a nice little tribute for him the last couple of years."
One of her students asked if he could do a little more filming for his "I Wanna Rock" music video, so she sent the eager group off with an HD camera and tripod telling them to hurry if they want to be able to show their video in class on Friday and possibly in the showcase next Tuesday.
"I’m so excited to show these kids’ talent," Maddux said. "The showcase is really just about inviting parents and anybody in the community to really just kind of marvel at what kids this age can accomplish. I think they’ll really enjoy it."
The Treasure Mountain Junior High Mustang Filmmakers Showcase will be held at the school next Tuesday, April 29, from 6:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Parents and members of the community are invited to attend.