Friday, March 25, 2005 - They oughta be in pictures - They oughta be in pictures: "Mar. 25, 2005. 01:00 AM"

They oughta be in pictures
Filmmaking becomes a reality for kids

Camp teaches all facets of production


They oughta be in pictures
Filmmaking becomes a reality for kids

Camp teaches all facets of production

Lights. Camera ...
"You're in the frame!" Toya Gavin yelled across a downtown street. "Go way off. Totally!"
"Okay, we have to do that again," she sighed.
A moment later, she surveyed her film crew — three teenagers and one 11-year old girl — and declared, "It's okay. You know what? Just leave it!"
And finally: Action!
That's the way the camera rolled yesterday for this film crew of five — starting and stopping to a chorus of sighs and endless stage direction.
There was no wrap in sight, but with every shot, a dream burnished brighter.
The crew members, ranging in age from 11 to 20, were among a dozen young people spending their March break learning to be filmmakers at the Centre for the Arts' film camp. The annual adventure invites young people to spend a week, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., learning every facet of film production.
"It's a place where you can do your own work, have your own say, and it does build your confidence," said John Boylan, the centre's director. "And I think these kids feel it without the lecturing, but the doing."
This week, that included writing, directing, acting, editing and cinematography.
Their efforts came together yesterday, when students broke into three groups to shoot the films they had written earlier in the week. Scampering all over the old building on Adelaide St. W. near John St., their voices frequently rang out, "Rolling! Camera rolling!"
"Today's the big day," said Matt Hilliard-Forde, the Toronto director overseeing this year's camp. "They're putting together everything we've looked at during the week.
"We give them the basics," he added. "We give them a vocabulary in film so they can communicate with one another, and hopefully to equip them and inspire them to keep doing it.
"By the end of the week, they're talking like filmmakers, looking like filmmakers and smelling like filmmakers."
Before the day was done, many were possessed by that particular passion common among the most earnest of filmmakers: uncompromising vision.
"What I'm saying is it's not going to make a difference because it's her idea," said one 14-year-old first-time director. Then he finally shrugged and allowed the shoot to continue.
"Let's do it," he said. "I don't need directors going at it. This is frustrating."
Waiting for his cue from the sidelines, lead actor Fraser MacKinnon's passion for the craft wasn't nearly as pronounced as that of his colleagues.
"I didn't have much else to do," the high-school student said, musing over his March break plans. "I didn't want to stick around my house watching TV. This is a really good experience."
Besides, he added, "a lot of the speakers are really awesome."
Those guests included actor and director Saul Rubinek, art director Frank Flood and cinematographer Ron Stannett. Last year, Nicholas Campbell of the television drama Da Vinci's Inquest visited the camp.
The not-for-profit centre has been running the film camp since its founding in 2003. Since then, as many as 30 children, from backgrounds as diverse as the inner city to private schools, have enrolled every year. Although the course costs $290, the centre subsidizes students who can't afford the tuition.
"It's really intense, but I think it's so different from school, the kids respond to it," Boylan said. "Some of these kids have been making movies since they were 16. They're really accomplished."
Like Toya Gavin, 20, who served as co-director in one of yesterday's film crews.
"These people want to be here," she said. Co-directing yesterday, she called the film camp a far cry from high school, where students sign up for film class "just to take a credit."
Working in film since she was 16, Gavin's two-minute short was a finalist in the Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children last April. She doesn't have a day job, living at her East York home with her parents, "cooking and cleaning."
For Gavin, it's all about the big picture. She's applying to various colleges to keep studying film, hoping some day to make that her day job.
For others, like 11-year old Ashia Gonzalez, it's all about starting small. Ashia uttered scarcely a word on the set, just watching scenes unfold, sometimes holding the camera and other times lugging gear.
"But she does really great camera work. Her storyboards are really good and she's a really great actress," said Hilliard-Forde. "She doesn't say that much at all. But then you see her work. She's got something for sure."
"Ashia's super, super shy, but she's brilliant," chimed in Sarain Boylan, an actress and volunteer counsellor whose father is the centre's director.
But the final wrap on how the day went for these students — in spite of all its delays and debates — was proudly proclaimed on her cap.
On a few strips of tape, attached to its front, she had written, "Damn it feels good to be at film camp."


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