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The Commons
Photo 1

Courtesy photo

Nina North, on camera, records Abe Balint-Wohl on the green screen, while behind the scenes, Allison Corey holds cue cards and Jacob Amidon operates the boom microphone in BCTV's studio.

Town and Village

Telling a story, frame by frame

Video camp gives youths a chance to be filmmakers

Originally published in The Commons issue #416 (Wednesday, July 12, 2017). This story appeared on page 0.



BRATTLEBORO—This year, the Brattleboro Community Television Summer Video and Tech Camp tackled the spiritual world of ghosts and ghouls.

Starting in 2006, the BCTV camp has been offered each summer during the last week in June and, each year, campers create a short fantasy film. This year’s theme was “Ghost Hunters: Vermont.”

Brattleboro Community Television is a community media center that serves eight towns in southern Windham County. While most know BCTV for its coverage of municipal meetings and special events, it also provides equipment and training that allows community members to create and share their own content.

The yearly Video and Tech Camp for 9-12 year olds takes place at the BCTV studios in the Municipal Center. Kids learn all the aspects of making a movie, including acting, filming, editing, and designing.

Besides gaining some general production knowledge in the making of a video, BCTV Director Cor Trowbridge said kids are also able to focus on their own particular interests throughout the camp.

“Everybody gets a chance to work the camera, learn editing, learn Garageband [a music production software program], to see what they like,” she said. “Some kids come here and they have a background in acting from NEYT, while some kids come with more of a technical interest, so that aspect appeals to them.”

Hands-on approach

The campers begin the week with various video production activities to give them an idea of what components appeal to them the most. After that, they come together to create a theme for their movie, which they’ll work on through the week.

BCTV staff member Frederic Noyes describes the process.

“We brainstormed on Monday and went through a bunch of different ideas, and tried to find where there were overlapping ideas and where there were things that people seemed jazzed about,” he said. “Then we sort of refined it from that point, and that is how it usually develops.

“Over the course of 10 years or so, we’ve hit most of the big genres of science fiction, zombies, disaster films, detective films, so it’s fun that we can still find new things to mine and play around with.”

On the last day of the program, the completed movie is premiered for family members, aired on BCTV Channels 8 and 10, and posted at the BCTV website.

“We try and do something a little different every year, just to keep it fresh,” Trowbridge said. “We keep it small so that every kid gets equal attention and opportunity.”

In addition to being broadcast locally, the videos are often submitted to competitions. BCTV was recently awarded a national Hometown Media Award from the Alliance for Community Media for a video created by 14 youths ages 9-12 during last year’s summer video camp.

The video, Digital Inferno: The Breakfast Club Assembles, won in the category: Mixed and Transmedia, in the Student Division. This year, there are multiple contests that the camp video may be submitted to, including the Vermont Freedom and Unity Contest.

A role for everyone

Each camper fills an important role in the production of the movie. For example, some students, like Liam Hege, lean toward the more technical side of production.

After demonstrating on his computer some of the effects he was working with to create the image of the transparent ghosts that feature in the current film, he talked about his role in last year’s award winning film, Digital Inferno.

“I did some of the animation, stop-motion animation mostly, and then there were a bunch of clips that I edited and they got put on the DVD that had all the special features. I also remember working a little with the Minecraft animation. That was probably the most confusing thing I’ve done at this camp, but it was a cool idea.”

Liam has attended the camp for multiple years, and plans to come back as a junior counselor in the following years, as well as study film production at the Windham Regional Career Center. While Liam is more focused on editing, other campers are prominent actors, camera operators, and producers. Each student gets the opportunity to work on the movie in the aspect that they are the most interested in.

This year’s movie follows a group of ghost hunters caught up in the publicity and inter-team disputes of catching ghosts on camera and, in doing so, they overlook obvious supernatural beings that appear.

The “mockumentary” is guided by the staff, but is filmed, acted, edited, and produced by the campers.

Trowbridge says she is proud of what the campers accomplish every summer.

She called the camp “a way to introduce young people to the concept that videos are not just something you watch; you can make them. These days, everybody is making videos on their phones all the time. But if we are trying to actually tell a story, there are different things to take into consideration, and this is an introduction to that.”

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