A pair of Fort Garry-based artists helped bring a taste of Tinseltown to a Winnipeg school recently.
Filmmaker Randy Guest and storyteller Leigh-Anne Kehler of Tooz A Crowd Productions worked with students at Polson School from Dec. 14 to 20, meeting daily to teach them the basics of crafting stories through film. The pair visited the East Kildonan school as part of the Artists in the Schools program.
Students worked on telling stories using the seven sacred teachings of love, respect, courage, honesty, humility, wisdom, and truth.
Kehler and Guest, who are Fort Garry residents, said students begin the sessions believing most filmmaking is done on computers. However, they stress getting great footage to work with, editing as much as they can on the fly.
"They’re forgetting the fundamental connection between their imagination and the camera," Kehler said. "There are movie magic camera tricks that they can’t emulate on the computer.
"We like to get them to a place where they’re thinking like filmmakers."
Kehler and Guest work with students from kindergarten all the way through to Grade 6, and say the content of the sessions is similar, but presented in an age-appropriate manner.
"Of course we differentiate the delivery, but we never cut back on the knowledge," Kehler said. "The kindergarten class can tell you the five different shots that compose a frame.
"They might not necessarily be working on story-building the way the Grade 6 class was, choosing different shots and angles to deliver a story. Kindergarten and Grade 1, they’re looking at choosing an appropriate shot or angle for a simple moment."
The duo will edit the footage together into finished projects and will return to the school in January to show them to students.
"The editing process is a labour of love because we put in a lot of extra hours," Kehler said. "Some schools, I like to also show them, if I have time, a little bit of the editing process.
"The kids will get to see their movie fully edited and then I’ll show them the raw footage and how I got there."
Kehler added she and Guest are sometimes invited back to schools for a second week to teach editing.
Principal Ian Grant said he was glad to have Guest and Kehler visit the school and help students think critically about the media they consume.
"Kids now consume more stories than any kids have ever seen in history between TV and video games and all the pieces they can," he said. "They have an enormous amount of information that comes to them. If they do not learn how to construct it, then they can’t learn to deconstruct it."
Grant said the school has participated in the Artists in the Schools program for several years, always ensuring that the guest artists line up with the school’s yearly theme. Year of the Story will be featured during the 2012-13 school year.