The third annual Parkway Digital Film Festival was held Wednesday night at the Purser Center on the campus of Logan College of Chiropractic. The festival had all the trappings of Hollywood, a red carpet and plenty of fanfare. The main difference between this festival and the Sundance Film Festival or the Telluride Film Festival was that all the fimmakers were students in either grade school or high school in the Parkway School District.
More than 150 films were entered into the festival, with the majority of them coming from the younger grades.
Parkway South High School Italian exchange student student Antonio Liggieri showcased his film, A Day in the Life. Liggieri’s film depicts a humorous version of his first day of school at Parkway South. “I just wanted to get the fun out of the experience,” Liggieri said. “(After making the film) I saw the day different than I had before.”
The festival is the brainchild of Bill Bass, a technology integration specialist with the Parkway School District.
"Our department had been trying to figure out how to get teachers to use more technology," Bass said. "Every film has to be tied to curriculum and sponsored by a teacher."
Southwest Middle School seventh-grader Sydney Scagilone said she liked the filming process “because you can use more of your personality.” She also said that she plans on making another film and entering it in the festival next year. Scagilone’s film, Greek Games Propaganda, was a commercial for the sporting events of ancient Greece.
When asked why he shot a film and entered it into the festival, Southwest Middle School sixth-grader Ryan Noark simply said, “I had to. It was a class project.”
Noark’s film Felix the Cat, was the result of an assignment in which he was given a piece of public domain cartoon footage and then had to supplement to footage with his own music, sound effects and voice-overs.
Sorrento Springs fourth-grader Valerie Tsukhai was a little more enthusiastic about filmmaking than Noark. She said it was a lot more fun that normal school activities. Tsukhai was in the film Tolerance with several of her classmates.
"I really liked doing this," Shank said. "My brother entered a film in last year, and I had helped him on it." Shank said it was nice to be the one getting the credit this time around.
Alyssa's sister Emily, a freshman at Parkway West, also had a film featured in the festival. Her film Bob's Boat teaches a lesson about buoyancy and was created as part of a physics class. "It was really fun to make and edit and to create a story to go along with what we were learning," Emily said.
Cynthia Pappas, a communications specialist with the Parkway School District, said that it is important to expose students to multimedia to help prepare them for the ever changing, modern world. "Multimedia doesn't replace writing, it just embellishes it," she said. She said that festival event like this one is necessary "because if you make a film and no one sees your film, you're not ever going to do it again."
Activities surrounding the festival extended beyond just shooting videos. Several students also created posters to advertise the event. Parkway Central senior Kenny Yn said he created one of the posters as part of his digital design class.
The change in Parkway's curriculum to reflect the growing importance of multimedia seems to have been embraced by the younger kids more so than it has been by the older students.
"High schoolers like video equally to writing, but the middle schoolers prefer video," said Amy Johnson, a technology integration specialist with the Parkway School District.
Johnson said there were about around 120 films submitted from elementary classes as opposed to about 75 films from grades 6-12. Around 800 students contributed to making the films, she said.
Two of the festival's youngest filmmakers were siblings Max and Molly Bass, both first graders at McKelvey Elementary.
"Some people collect video, some people work on the computer. It's pretty fun," Max said of the filmmaking process. Max and his sister were both featured in Rock Around the Clock.
Everyone walked away from the Parkway Digital Film Festival a winner.
"This is not a competition," said Johnson, "but a celebration of the students' work."
The films from the festival can be seen here.