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Academy Awards for books hosted at Ecker Hill

by Dale Thompson

The road to victory is long, or in this case the red carpet.

After four weeks of preparation, Liz Thompson’s seventh grade English students at Ecker Hill International Middle School were ready for Thursday night’s Academy Awards for Books Ceremony.

To prepare, students had to read a book and learn about different aspects of film making.

In the pre-production phase Thompson selected 30 award winning books, including "Ender’s Game" and "If I Should Die Before I Wake." Students chose a book they would like to read and Thompson assigned them to groups based on which story they selected.

After reading their book each group picked a scene from their book to film. This involved writing scripts and creating story boards.

During production the students used digital cameras to film their scenes. Thompson asked the students to focus on character, theme, tone, mood and style throughout the production process.

Post-production work included importing their film into iMovie and adding a soundtrack that was appropriate for their scene. Thompson required them to incorporate at least one song into the film.

The Academy Awards ceremony doubled as the premier for the students’ work.

Thompson hopes that through this unit the students will be able to answer these questions: What is literature? What is film? What is needed to create a strong iMovie? How is the writing process similar to creating film? How are the elements of literature used in adapting literature to film?

Other teachers got involved during the four weeks as Thompson tried to address International Baccalaureate themes.

One of those examines how and why man creates. Susie Preston, a science teacher, taught the students about how film as made and why it deteriorates.

Another theme addresses who we are, and Rebecca Genovese, a Utah Studies teacher, discussed Park City as a film community and the history of Sundance.

Mason West, a student, said the project helped him learn more than if he had just read the book, but it was a difficult project.

"I thought it was fun. I never realized filmmaking was so hard," he said. "You had to make sure the scenes connected."

Kyler Efinger was unhappy with the time limit of three to five minutes.

"If you could make it longer it would make more sense," he said.

Mackenzie Knight loved getting to make movies and enjoyed the project.

"It was a good experience because we learned to convert literature into film," she said.

Thirty short films were shown at the Academy Awards for Books Ceremony. Audience members filled out ballots and voted for their favorite films in seven categories.

The winners were: Best Screenplay "Night Hoops" Parker Loomis Mason West Kyler Efinger Trevor Pivo Best Cinematography "Stuck in Neutral" Kevin Loughlin Mitchell McIver Lauren Wattier James O’Donnell Best Acting "Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging" Natalia Caro Travis Burgess Sienna Palmacci Best Set/Costumes (tie) "7 daughters/7 sons" Brianne Aglaure Amanda Medes Rachel Bollwinkel Katy Strikwerda "Blue Fingers" Thomas Whitworth Brian Park Matt VanLeeuwen Matt Penner Best Soundtrack "Whirligig" Natalie Polana Mackenzie Call Brian Schettler Best Film Editing (tie) "In my Enemies House" Kya Pylmaki Catalina Ritzinger Renee Santa Maria Katie Selby "After" Sarah Henry Wendy Sly Katie Knudsen Best Overall "Swallowing Stones" Courtney Schneider Tyler Busey April Brandt


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