Education

Local filmmakers encourage South Miami High students to make movies

Natalia Lassalle, a local filmmaker, and Ronald Baez of the Miami Film Development Project speak to students at South Miami Senior High School on Wednesday, Dec.16.
Natalia Lassalle, a local filmmaker, and Ronald Baez of the Miami Film Development Project speak to students at South Miami Senior High School on Wednesday, Dec.16. cportilla@miamiherald.com

For many people, working in movies is just a dream, but last week a local group of filmmakers visited South Miami Senior High School to show students that their dreams of making movies don’t have to be far from reality.

Ronald Baez, artistic director for the Miami Film Development Project, the Coral Gables Art Cinemateque’s nonprofit, is working with the school’s administrators to host more events like these for the kids. Eventually, they plan on creating a film track for the students, as well as providing them with equipment and connecting them with experts in the industry.

Humberto Ferre, the school’s library technician and a movie enthusiast, thought it would be a good idea to screen films for the students and get them excited about filmmaking.

“There was a teacher at this school who would have the students write a movie and direct it as their final project,” Ferre said. “She retired, but the movies were actually pretty good. I wanted to do something that would inspire them again.”

Maria Campos, an English teacher, brought about 60 of her film studies students to the school’s auditorium to watch shorts from local Miami directors, producers and actors.

Jonathan David Kane, Edson Jean, Kevin Sharpley and Natalia Lassalle showed their flicks and talked about the obstacles they dealt with while in production.

Kane told students about how his 10-minute documentary filmed in Haiti, Papa Machete, took about a year to make and that his first attempt at putting it together was unsuccessful.

“I tried submitting it to a festival and they flat-out rejected me,” Kane said. “ Don’t be afraid to take your film apart to create a better project.”

For Baez, it’s important to mentor the students and help them create projects for their portfolio by the time they apply for college.

“Sometimes the schools don’t have the money for film tracks when they’re worried about covering school lunches,” Baez said. “If the students are able to put something really good together, they’ll have the same chance at competing with kids all over the country who are applying to some of the top schools.”

Angeles Perez, a junior at the school, was surprised to know that making movies is not all glitz and glamor like in Hollywood.

“It showed me that filmmakers are not all well off, they struggle financially and artistically to create a film that is the way they envision it,” said Perez, 17. “Also, that there is a tremendous amount of work put into post-production, more than I thought.”

Baez is optimistic that working with the high schoolers will get them interested in the field.

“It’s a matter of showing rather than telling,” Baez said. “When students see that these people are actually making a living from film, they see that they can do this too.”

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For more info

Visit filmprojectmiami.com or the Miami Film Development Project on Facebook.

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