The past two weeks, 13 area children joined Shanda Munson, owner of The Scene Studio, to create and film a movie during her annual “Let’s Make a Movie Camp.”
The camp gives kids the opportunity to learn about on-camera acting, film, television, commercials, auditioning, voice-overs and other things beyond theater.
“‘Let’s Make a Movie’ was one of my first summer camps I started to give kids a chance to make their own short film,” Munson said. “The first year the film was under 15 minutes, and now we have increased it to at least 30 minutes.”
Each year is a different genre. The kids create the characters and storyline. Munson and director, Jacob Herrmann, take the ideas and create the script.
“This year’s film, ‘Come Monday,’ is loosely inspired by the movie ‘The Breakfast Club,’” Munson said. “I didn’t intend for the story to be so dramatic. We asked the kids what stereotypes do they see on a day-to-day basis, and it opened a pretty intense dialogue.”
Herrmann agreed. It was eye opening for them to learn from the kids.
“This film definitely showed me that some kids have a really tough time, and they are smarter than we give them credit for,” he said. “Sometimes they would come up with these ideas and we were like, ‘Wow! How do you even know that?’”
The basis of the film is that these kids don’t know each other and they’re posed with the question, who do they want to be as a person? And how do they want to be understood by others?
“I’m hoping it will open a discussion for parents with their kids about things that their kids are going through at school that they maybe didn’t experience in their time at school,” Munson said.
For the school aesthetic, the camp used St. Mary’s Elementary School in East Dubuque, Ill., to shoot all 21 scenes.
“It was a fun process,” Herrmann said. “Of course, being a director, you’re kind of in charge but really it’s about collaborating with the kids and helping them make decisions and learn how to do it all.”
Since filming movies isn’t something most kids get to learn about every day, they soaked up everything they could.
“They’re like sponges,” Munson said. “They learned about all of the jobs that take place on the set of a movie, and they were so excited to participate in everything.”
After the film has been edited, the campers will reconvene for a red carpet premiere.
“One of the important things I learned was how to use the camera,” said camper Anna Kluesner. “I’ve only ever been in front of the camera so this year I decided to watch Jacob and see how he set the scenes up.”
This was Kluesner’s second year and she plans to continue attending to gain more experience.
“It was so much fun, and it was nice to see the more experienced kids help the younger ones with their scenes,” she said.
If the film turns out like they’re expecting, they plan to send it to the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, among others.
“It’s really awesome to see how proud they are of the film and hearing them be truthful about their experiences,” Munson said. “I hope they also take away the idea that you don’t need a lot of money to make art or a film.”