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Claremont COURIER/Friday, March 31, 2017 8

Mountain View students take big ideas to the big screen


S
ixth graders have a lot to learn be-
fore heading to junior high, but it
doesnt usually include advanced
filmmaking.
Students in three Mountain View classrooms, how-
ever, have spent the past semester embracing the art
of cinema, shepherding short films from idea to exe-
cution to an upcoming screening at the local
Laemmles Theater.
Its an impressive feat that started when Jacqueline
McElvy used some big daring to reach out to some
big talent.
Ms. McElvy, a coach for teachers in the area of
TEAL (technology enhanced arts learning), partici-
pated in an Art + Film Teacher Institute at the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art this past summer.
She and a team of educators created a short film
inspired by a work of art, under the guidance of mul-
tidisciplinary artist and writer Gustavo Alberto Gar-
cia Vaca. Mr. Vaca has worked for companies like
Pixar, Warner Bros., Disney and Apple, notably cre-
ating concept art for the feature films Interstellar
and Star Trek.
Ms. McElvy was so impressed with the experience
she wanted to bring it to Mountain View. How do
you get an art-world luminary to come help your
public school class make a movie masterpiece? COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff
I simply asked, Ms. McElvy said. Artist Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca works with Dean Magallanes, 11, and Katie Offill-Jackson, 12, as the
Once Mr. Vaca agreed to teach her class, Ms. students of Jacque McElvys sixth grade class put finishing touches on their movie at Mountain View Ele-
mentary School.
McElvy applied to the Claremont Educational Foun-
dation for a grant. The local nonprofit gave her
$3,000 to fund a student-made film, which was aug- illustrated the concepts with clips from films such as The students then set about determining the sub-
mented by a $1,000 Best BET (Business and Educa- The Shining, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon jects for their film. Mr. Vaca encouraged Ms.
tion Together) grant from the Claremont Chamber of and Big Hero 6. McElvys students to start by picking an artist who
Commerce. Ty Robnett, one of Ms. McElvys students, said inspired them, and they chose the surrealist artist Sal-
With instructor and budget secured, Ms. McElvy hell never again look at a movie the same way. In- vador Dali.
decided to expand the project to all of the sixth stead of simply following the story, he now finds While poring through Dalis imagery, the students
graders at Mountain View. Mr. Vaca would help three himself noticing all the different shots. In fact, hes took note of recurring visual motifs like circular
groups of kids make short films: Ms. McElvys class, now aware of all the behind-the-scenes work that shapes as well as the prevailing sense of enigma.
Valri Jacobs sixth graders and the students in Ramon goes into a production. Each student wrote a script and then Mr. Vaca went
Villelas fifth-sixth grade combination class. When I was smaller watching movies, I thought it through their work, melding the stories together to
His first order of business was to teach film vocab- maybe took a day or week to make them. I thought create a backbone for what would end up being an
ulary to the youngsters, explaining terms like close- the movie was made in one shot, Ty said. Now I 11-minute film.
ups, wide shots, continuity and panning. Mr. Vaca know its harder. MOUNTAIN VIEW MOVIE/next page
Claremont COURIER/Friday, March 31, 2017 9

Emma Ojeda, 11, hand writes the title for the film Wake Up as Mountain View students put the final touches on their movie.

MOUNTAIN VIEW MOVIE/from the previous page All of the scenes were shot on iPads, using
The whole theme of the movie is mysterious, iMovie. Nico Bonilla was part of the camera team, a
sixth grader Alanna Eskandari said. It kind of ques- role toward which he was naturally inclined. Im
tions reality. kind of usually holding a camera and taking pictures
wherever I go, he explained.

I
n Wake Up, six girls are stuck in an The creation of the credits underscores the often-
unsettling dream world haunted by improvisational nature of filmmaking.
four spirits. Along with Dali, the We used an app called Notability and we typed
what everyone did in the movie. We used a black
students also drew inspiration from an backdrop and white type, Katie Offill-Jackson
etching by another Spanish artist, Fran- shared. Then we filmed the iPad using another iPad,
cisco Goya. The sleep of Reason Pro- taking shots of me scrolling through the text. We put
paper over it so there would be no glare.
duces Monsters shows a dreaming man, When Amina Fejleh saw the final product, she was
tormented by flocks of bats and owls. surprised. Everything looked like we were profes-
We basically thought that, when you do things sionals, she said.
that are unkind to people, when you go to sleep at COURIER photoS/Steven Felschundneff With their films in the can, Mountain View upper
night those things weigh heavy on you. This film is Sixth grade teacher Jacque McElvy applied for graders are looking forward to screening the short
so symbolic. Its so inspiring to me, Ms. McElvy grants from the Claremont Educational Foundation films for families and friends later this month at the
said. and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce to help Laemmles Theatre.
Lots of solid work went into creating the cinematic fund the film Wake Up, which her class made with Attendees will watch Wake Up as well as two
fantasy. the assistance of artist Gustavo Alberto Garcia Vaca. other films, both about five minutes long. Mr. Vil-
Mr. Vaca utilized the frant money to purchase through CUSDs music program, also funded by lelas class has made a movie called Dont Press
equipment for the films, including cameras and light- CEF. Asked the difference between the two instru- Five. Mr. Jacobs students will unveil a production
ing, and then students were assigned various roles. ments, Victoria had a ready answer: The viola has a called The Substitute. The screening will be fol-
Maya Salgado was one of the students charged with C-string, and the violin as an E-string. Also, the viola lowed by a discussion panel featuring Mr. Vaca and
makeup. We used a lot of liquid eyeliner on their has a lower tone. student filmmakers.
lips and eyes and had dark makeup to make them Diego Hara created a tune using the program Until then, the students are keeping mum about
look bruised, she said. GarageBand, employing digital piano and string in- their project. My mom asked me how the movie is
Maya and her peers hadnt used much makeup be- struments, while Olivia Washington lent her vocals going. I said, Youll see at the movie premiere,
fore, but Bailey Bermudez, who played one of the to the soundtrack. I sang Twinkle Twinkle, but it Alanna said.
spirits, was impressed. Sometimes I felt like a dif- was in a creepy mood, Olivia said. Ms. McElvy noted with enthusiam that Mountain
ferent person, she said. Ms. McElvys class created a couple sets in their View gets to keep the equipment funded by the grant
Bailey also took part in making music for the film, classroom, a living room with a fireplace and an an- money. We get to do it again next year!
playing the violin while Victoria Acevedo played the tique armchair and a bedroom, and a family who Sarah Torribio
viola. lives near the school let the kids shoot exterior and storribio@claremont-courier.com
The girls have been studying their instruments interior shots of their home.