Films can have the power to uplift, inspire, educate and transform. The art of filmmaking has many faces, including entertainment, documentary, informational and commercial.
For Shyanne Sanchez and Timmy Jarosick, digital arts students at the School of Dreams Academy in Los Lunas, filmmaking is a way to reach out to their community.
The two collaborate together to create short, public service announcements to encourage fellow teens to steer clear of drug and alcohol use and find a healthy way to have fun.
For Sanchez, the message is deeply personal because her mother is a drug addict who abandoned her, she said. Sanchez has been living with her grandmother, Sophie Granger.
Her experience has prompted her to reach out to other youth who may be in similar situations, and let them know they are not alone.
The teenager also wants to discourage her peers from experimenting with drugs because she has seen the dangers up close and personal.
“There’s other things than drugs,” Sanchez said. “There is other ways to have fun and fit in.”
The two students are currently working on a film called, “Hell’s Gates,” about a teenager who wants to get away from drug abuse at home to find a better way to live.
The soundtrack features the song, “Runaway Love,” by singer Mary J. Blige.
“We work together, like a team,” Jarosick said. “We both know how to do each other’s job. I take pictures and she knows how to edit videos, but she likes photography a lot better, and I like editing.”
“It really depends on what we’re filming,” Sanchez said.
They use movie-making and editing software by Windows Movie Maker. Jarosick prefers it over iMovie for MacIntosh computers, he said.
“But you can use that software on any computer,” said Sanchez.
The camera they use is a Canon EOS Rebel T3, and Sanchez said she usually films on an automatic setting.
The students both design and build their own props, and often play the characters in their films themselves.
Sanchez filmed a presentation on methamphetamine given by Patricia Rael, a line producer for D.U.D.E. TV, a website designed to educate youth on drug and alcohol prevention.
Rael, a former education and outreach coordinator for the New Mexico Attorney General, ended up offering Sanchez a job at $12 an hour to create documentaries and music videos for drug prevention programs.
“Here at SODA, we work with the students according to their level of readiness, and when we see that the kids have a variety of gifted areas, such as Shyanne with film, we help them find paraprofessionals that are willing to work with them, sometimes in an internship type of work,” said Lorena Herrera, SODA’s bilingual educator.
“Now, she will be getting paid and at the same time getting experience.”
Another project the students were involved in was making documentaries of elders at the Senior Living Center in Los Lunas.
“We were video taping and interviewing them,” Sanchez said. “We asked them questions like their parents’ names, what they did as they grew up, and how the economy changed so much â€• gas prices, candy prices. Then we asked them if there was anything else they wanted to share with us.”
Sanchez said she also played bingo with them, and they taught her how to play professional pool.
“Mr. John Sanchez would actually bring his own pool stick, and when he didn’t want to play a game, he would hand me the stick and tell me to take his spot,” Sanchez said.
“We had to make sure they got permission from their families for us to film,” Jarosick said.
The school visits the senior center every Friday afternoon as part of its community service curriculum.
The school not only prepares students academically, but also in public relations, said Herrera.
“We train them to become successful citizens, not only in New Mexico, but for the county of Valencia as well,” she said.
Jarosick said he’d like to play piano for the seniors, if they would like him to.
“I major in the tenor saxophone and the piano, but I can play clarinet, oboe, trombone. I can play a bunch of instruments,” he said. “See, I want to go to Juilliard, that’s my dream college.”
Last year, for a class assignment, three local veterans were invited to go to the school to talk about their war experiences.
The students in the class made mini-documentaries using photographs they took during the veteran’s presentations, and used the editing software to create visual narrative within the frames.
The three local veterans were James Garley, Red Young and Roberto Baldonado.
Jarosick put his video on YouTube. It can be accessed by searching for “Veterans at My School,” by Tim Jarosick.
Both students keep their grades in the A and B range, they said, and both serve on the student council.
Sanchez is secretary, and Jarosick is the public relations representative.
This summer, Sanchez had the opportunity to do a documentary with the British Broadcasting Company when they came to Valencia County for part of a news story documenting the crisis in education for Hispanics.
Sanchez has decided she wants to pursue photography and filmmaking in college.
“I’m not quite sure of the name, but I want to go to the school of film and photography in California,” Sanchez said.
“Or if I’m led to, I’ll most likely just stay here to take filming.”
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