Local Non-Profit Engages Teenagers through Film

Arts and Entertainment

August 19, 2015

Transforming young lives through film

The excitement rippled through the screening room. Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA) students chatted nervously with each other, clutching their popcorn and soda, waiting to see their films on the big screen. After being submerged in the filmmaking process for two and half weeks, students were eager to see their stories come to life.
This year, DAVA, in conjunction with the Colorado Film School at the Community College of Aurora, hosted another free Summer Film Camp for middle and high school youth.

"Film Camp offers students the opportunity to learn the basics of filmmaking, and also prepares them to face the challenges inherent in any professional role, like critical thinking, problem solving and working together as a team," DAVA Executive Director Susan Jenson said. "DAVA students are aided by Colorado Film School teachers to help them transform their artistic visions into complete short films."

The Summer Film Camp started in 2009 when the Associate Professor at Colorado Film School, Geoffrey Chadwick came to DAVA with college students to teach the art of making movies.

"In the beginning of this summer's classes at DAVA, Job Training - CAL (Computer Art Lab) students were brainstorming ideas, developing and writing basic storylines for their movies," DAVA Job Training Manager and CAL Teacher Luzia Ornelas said. "We had 23 powerful stories based on the students' own personal experiences as teenagers and vivid imaginations. We ended up producing nine short films, both fictional and non-fiction. The students created works that ranged from silent drama and action to animated films and educational documentaries."

They focused on the theme of 'transformation' DAVA's overarching theme for 2015 to help guide the film plots.

Eighth grader at Aurora West College Preparatory Academy and DAVA student Ireland Reynold described the value that she found in Film Camp, saying, "My mom kept telling me she has never seen me so focused and excited about something. I was the first one in the editing room everyday and the last one out."

Reynold has been involved in DAVA's programs for the past four years, and this was her third Film Camp. Reynold proudly listed off a wide range of technical software programs she has now mastered through DAVA's job training program and Film Camp including Gimp, Inkscape, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and Final Cut Pro.

As technology advances and becomes more widely implemented in schools across the country, the benefit of knowing how to use these programs is invaluable. Film Camp is one way DAVA prepares youth with the necessary skill set and tools to be successful in today's world.

The technological skills learned at Film Camp are not the only focus of the program. As Chadwick explained, "We don't necessarily expect them all to grow up to be great filmmakers, but they learn how to work with each other, how to lead each other, how to do a job within the context of making a film and to come through for each other."
"One of DAVA's core values is to teach students' skills that prepare them for college and careers," Jenson said. "We intentionally focus on integrating life and work skills into every project. It's inspiring to see how our programming continues to transform young lives."

Some of the short films are available to view at DAVA's YouTube channel. Students plan to showcase their films at a screening scheduled from 5-7 p.m. on September 11 at DAVA, 1405 Florence St., Aurora.

To learn more about DAVA and its programs, visit www.davarts.org.