“We’re rolling,” called out the director. “Action!”
With student Lanaiya Jennings operating the movie camera, student Effren Rumbo started walking down a hall at Diggs-Latham Elementary School carrying a giant stack of books. When Des’rae Brim and Nickolas Gist – playing two students in a hurry – came upon Effren, Des’rae accidentally bumped into him, sending the books scattering across the floor.
Des’rae and Nickolas stopped only long enough to blame Effren for the mishap.
“Why don’t you look where you’re going?” Des’rae said.
“Now we’re late and it’s all your fault,” Nickolas said.
They hustled away, leaving Effren to gather the books by himself.
“Cut!” called out filmmaker Leslie Hill.
Don’t worry. Although this particular scene in “Kindness” doesn’t have a lot of kindness in it, the 5-minute movie that students are making with the help of Hill and teacher Amanda Stevenson turns out well. Hill is an independent filmmaker who taught at the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts from 1995 to 2000. When she worked in California, she directed such television shows as “L.A. Law” and “Rescue 911.” With the support of an Arts-in-Education grant from The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County, she has been working with students at Diggs-Latham and Reynolds High School since January to make a short movie at each of the schools.
Both schools were chosen because of their focus on the arts. At Reynolds, Hill is working with students in the advanced theater program. Using a script that the students wrote, they are making a movie called “The Harrowing.” Students have divided into six director/videographer teams and each team is directing a two-minute segment of their movie. It, too, is being shot on location.
At Diggs-Latham, Stevenson teaches dance and theatre, so using her students was a natural choice. Stevenson chose 12 fourth-graders in the honors program to participate in the project. The script for Kindness was adapted from a play by Kevin Stone. Hill is directing and editing the movie. She began the project by talking with the Diggs-Latham students about all the steps that go into making a movie.
Some students are working as actors. Others are operating the camera and handling such production responsibilities as holding up the clapboard marked with the number of the scene and take. Hill has been going back to the school periodically to shoot segments of the movie. “Kindness” is scheduled to be shown at the Awards Day program on April 12.