By Amy Lyn Kench
“Film making is not an art and has no educational merits.”
This is what Lori Lane, the new Director of the Newfound Area School District Project Promise After school program said to teen film maker Sam Kench right before disbanding the Film Making Club that he founded two years ago.
For the past two years Sam had worked to build up participation in the club. He and fellow club members have produced original comedy shorts that have been well received by teachers, students, administrators and community members.
CLICK HERE to see an original sketch written, filmed and edited by the after school film making club. All the answers given,even the really ridiculous ones, are real things.
Fro the past 2 years I have acted as the club’s volunteer coordinator. Given Sam is under 18, I was required to sign a document stating nothing created by this club was affiliated with the school district before they would return the DVDs which were Sam’s personal property. Of course this was after the club’s work had been shared by teachers and students and seen by the administration prior to Lori Lane’s arrival.
After seeing the high quality of his work, teachers and administrators have asked Sam to film and create videos of activities and events around the school district. Before the after school program purchased a video camera, he used his own camera, computer and video editing software and spent countless hours outside school to put these videos together. All his work, prior to Lori Lane’s arrival, received positive feedback. But, in one fell swoop, she has negated all his hard work.
CLICK HERE to see the Youtube channel Sam set up for the school following strict instructions from the administration. He filmed and/edited the majority of the videos on the page but the administration and management of the page is in the hands of the school.
Lori lane has since denied her comment that film making is not an art, but in her formal letter disbanding the club she said the following:
“It is clear to me, from your comments yesterday, that the focus of this club is to give the students a forum to create scripts and film productions with content that they, themselves want to produce. There is no connection to improving student performance in core academic subjects like reading and mathematics or to complement their regular academic program…”
As you can see, in one sentence she states that the club members are writing and producing films, then contradicts herself in the next.
I’m pretty sure the majority of people would agree creating original scripts would help to improve reading, and writing skills. Given there are no film classes offered at the school and the advanced software being used to edit the films is not taught there either, the film making club was certainly a complement to the regular academic programming at NRHS.
When Sam read her statement he asked “How does the cooking club improve reading and math?” Her response was “There’s a lot of math in cooking.” Well, that may be the case, if you’re doubling a recipe or creating an original recipe. But you know what uses even more reading, writing and math skills? Creating original films.
Sam tried to explain to Ms. Lane that film making not only helps to improve reading and math skills but complements regular academic programs. He state that club members;
- Create original scripts which take quite a bit of writing skill and creativity.
- Read through scripts, memorize lines and choreograph scenes.
- Line up angles, adjust camera settings and lighting to get the best shots.
- Learn and use advanced film editing software that is not taught at NRHS.
- Produce high quality films.
Sam and his fellow film making club members followed the rules as outlined by the previous Project Promise Director. When Ms. Lane started at Newfound Regional High School, she did not introduce herself or ask what we did in our club. I, as the club adviser, made a point of introducing myself to her.
She didn’t ask any questions about what the club did, only about the equipment the club was using. She did not give members any new guidelines or rules. She certainly never asked the students or the coordinator how the club was meeting the goals of the 21st Century grant. If she had, she would have learned our members have far exceeded the goals of the grant. In fact, the film club is specifically mentioned in the grant application. But, instead she made assumptions and a decision that has had a profound effect on my son and other club members.
Lori Lane did not consult with anyone in the administration who has worked with Sam and club members over the past two years. How do we know this? Well, because both the Principal and Assistant Principal heard for the first time about what happened when Sam and I told them. Ms. Lane’s behavior and lack of communication is totally unacceptable and Sam has filed a complaint against her. He also requested a meeting with the superintendent Stacy Buckley. (She has since denied his request.)
Below is the formal letter from Ms. Lane disbanding the Film Making Club:
After receiving the above letter Sam informed club members what had happened. We then went over to the Gordon-Nash Library and arranged for The Newfound Film Making Club to start meeting there again. This is the community group we started this spring after several community members asked how they could be involved.
The actions of Ms. Lane will not derail Sam from his path. But, she certainly has cast a negative pall over the halls of NRHS. Show your support for film making as an art and for Sam’s work by commenting below and visiting his Youtube channels: Brickwall Productions and Brickwall Reviews and Tam Brickwall.
SPECIAL NOTE: On Friday, January 31, 2014 Sam was notified that a script he entered in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards won an honorable mention.