Los Angeles Teacher Transforms Summer Experience into Student Film Festival
Twentieth Century Fox Film Studios provides “red carpet” setting for film screening
LOS ANGELES – June 9, 2009 – Star Wars. Titanic. These conjure images of Hollywood and Twentieth Century Fox. Now add high school students’ film screenings to the list. The difference is, these budding producers from Dorsey High School are about to be discovered.
On June 4, 2009, 17 student filmmakers attended the Dorsey High School Film Fest 4 “red carpet event,” sponsored by the Fox STAR Mentoring Program, at Twentieth Century Fox’s Little Theatre to debut their films, commercials, music videos, PSAs, narratives and documentaries – all the result of film teacher Robert Jeffers’ year-long film production and editing class. Jeffers’ film class is part of the partnership between Dorsey High School and Fox STAR Mentoring, which has been in existence since 1995. Fox executives, film organizations, teachers, parents and the student filmmakers enjoyed the screening of 10 films and received encouragement from Fox STAR Mentoring Program Director Deborah Bryant, Jeffers, and Dorsey High School film program alumni Alma Alegria and Devindra Somadhi, Jr. The evening’s finale saw David Sosa win Best Overall/Best Direction and Christopher Simmons win Best Editing, which were determined by five creative executives from Fox who served as jurors. Both received a $1,000 college scholarship each from Twentieth Century Fox.
“Film is an amazing medium where art, literature, critical thinking, planning, and team work intersect,” remarked Jeffers. “Showcasing the students’ work on the Fox lot validates a year’s worth of effort and instilled in students a sense of pride in accomplishment. The Fox screening took work out of the classroom context and placed it directly into the film community, connecting what started as an assignment with the ‘real’ world. The significance of this event cannot be overstated, especially for the students and their families.”
The Fox red carpet opening has been a goal Bryant and Jeffers hoped to realize since the first campus festival screened four years ago. The support of Fox has enabled Jeffers to enrich the filmmaking experience for his students through studio production tours, material support, mentorship, and scholarship donation.
Fund for Teachers can now be counted among the donors of the program. A film teacher for five years, Jeffers sought deeper expertise in interviewing, filming and editing skills, so he applied for a Fund for Teachers grant to tour the country last summer and document the emergence of urban green spaces. Traveling from New York to Seattle to New Orleans, Jeffers filmed the distinct geographies, cultures and histories that shaped the landscapes of these divergent locations and documented the similarities among the community-minded citizens focused on developing green spaces that feed, educate and spiritually soothe their communities. The journey sharpened his filmmaking skills and provided new approaches for teaching his students both the creative and structured process of filmmaking.
Back home, during the fall 2009 semester, students who enrolled in Jeffers’ film production course spent a good portion of the school year learning the techniques he acquired on his fellowship and incorporating them into the films screened Thursday evening on the Twentieth Century Fox lot. Jeffers and his students are also creating a documentary focused around his fellowship about urban green spaces.
“Robert exemplifies the caliber of teacher receiving a Fund for Teachers’ grant,” explained Karen Kovach Webb, Fund for Teachers’ executive director. “We recognize in all teachers the power to transform the world and are particularly proud of Robert’s ability to translate his personal experiences last summer into a year-long curriculum benefitting students in such a dramatic way.”
Made possible by individual and corporate donors, Fund for Teachers has awarded more than $12 million in grants to approximately 3,500 of America’s top educators over the past nine years. Based in Houston, Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of America’s top teachers as they identify and pursue opportunities around the world that will have the greatest impact on themselves, their students and their communities. This summer, 371 teachers closed their classroom doors to embark on their own personal and professional development experiences around the world. For more information on their destinations or how you can make teachers’ dreams a reality, visit www.fundforteachers.org.