By Sam Kench
When Beth Colby left the district this school year her job of running after school Project Promise and handling the school’s ELO program was split into two positions. Amy Yeakle took over the ELO side of her duties, and the Project Promise aspect was filled by Lori Lane. Before Christmas break Ms. Lane viewed the Newfound Filmmaking Club’s sketch comedy show “Yes Son That is a Lion” After viewing it and deeming it offensive she informed the superintendent of her opinion. Without watching the video, superintendent Stacy Buckley ordered that all copies of the DVD be confiscated. Vice Principal Paul Hoiriis confiscated the remaining DVDs so that they could no longer be sold, with the stipulation that they would be returned at the end of the day. The DVDs were not returned at that time.
Ms. Lane offered to go through the video and point out which parts she found offensive. After the offer was accepted she recanted and refused to discuss the matter further. Ms. Lane has not responded to emails regarding the matter.
While in possession of the DVDs, Mr. Hoiriis and Ms. Lane claimed that the school (Project Promise) had ownership over the DVDs. Ms. Lane claimed that the school had paid for the DVDs and cases making them school property. The DVDs and cases were not purchased by the school. The materials used in the production of the DVDs were purchased independently by film making club members, as proof of purchase receipts illustrated. Mr. Hoiriis and Ms. Lane continued to claim the school’s ownership over the DVDs. Their stance was that since the school owned the camera that was used to make the video, they therefore owned the video itself. In a meeting the point was brought up that: This would be akin to the school claiming ownership of a students painting, because the school owned the brushes and paint used to make it. Mr. Hoiriis and Ms. Lane changed that claim of ownership, from physical ownership, to intellectual property. “Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works” (World Intellectual Property Association). Mr. Hoiriis and Ms. Lane stated that the school owned the intellectual and creative property of the film club. This would mean that the school owns the scripts written, the performances given by the actors, the actual footage, editing, effects, etc. This point was argued extensively.
During this time of deliberation Mr. Hoiriis stated that the video was not allowed to be sold within the school or elsewhere, he also said that the video could not be made available to the public through any means. It was not allowed to be shown anywhere, to be available for check out at the public library, to be shown on the public access channel, or to be available through any other avenue.
Eventually a document was signed saying that the school had no ownership over the DVDs and that they were a product of Brickwall Productions. The DVDs were then returned. After the DVDs were signed over, Ms. Lane stated that film making is not an art and that there is no education involved in it. She was not open to argument on this subject and insists that there is no artistic, creative, academic, or educational merits in the medium of film making.
Upon pressing Ms. Lane on this issue she revealed that she had officially disbanded the club. This decision was made of her own volition without consulting the administration, or anyone else. Mr. Hoiriis was not aware of this until it was brought to his attention after the meeting.
Ms. Lane disbanded the club on the basis that there was no educational or artistic aspect to filmmaking. She has no issue with the Geek Club, Anime Club, Cooking Club, Drama Club, Thespian Society, or Camera Club, so why the filmmaking club is being targeted is unknown.
Mike Place, a film professor at a local college, wrote in a letter explicitly stating how film making is educational. He detailed how filmmaking enriches academics and demonstrated the ways in which it teaches core subjects such as reading, writing and mathematics.
The New Hampshire representative of the 21st Century Community Learning Grant (The grant that Project Promise operates by), does not feel that Ms. Lane’s decision was justified. She also made aware that there are several film clubs supported by the grant around the country. Many students, staff, and community members have given their support to the former members of the filmmaking club and a petition on the matter has garnered over 50 signatures from people who find Ms. Lane’s actions unacceptable.