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The Arts

Compass School to host 15th annual Student Film Festival

The film festival, held at the school on Route 5 just south of Bellows Falls, is open to the public, with a $2 suggested donation. The Compass School is an independent school for students in grades 7-12. For more information, visit

WESTMINSTER—A group of 12 juniors and seniors at the Compass School have spent the past few weeks studying films, writing screenplays, and producing their own short films.

This week, they are putting final touches on their films and creating blooper reels in preparation for the 15th annual Compass Student Film Festival on Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m., a culminating event for their film-making class.

The general public is warmly invited to the showing.

This interdisciplinary course is a popular elective at the school, led by humanities teacher Ryan Hockertlotz and science/technology teacher Eric Rhomberg.

Hockertlotz and Rhomberg say they enjoy team teaching the course because the students are completely invested in their films throughout the process, working well beyond school hours to edit, perfect, and complete their projects.

“This is one of the most complex, creative, and organizationally challenging projects these students have ever taken on,” Rhomberg said in a news release.

From writing the script, recruiting actors, arranging shooting locations, and organizing props, to adding sound, editing, and continual reworking, film-making requires students to develop strong skills of decision making, teamwork, and management.

“There is a huge amount of problem-solving and thinking on your feet,” said 11th-grader Ben Allaire. “Every day, new challenges come up that we need to solve to keep our project moving.”

“I really like how we have been given the tools to do this film work,” added 11th-grader Ajna Siegel, “and now we have the freedom to independently create something that is meaningful to us.”

The course allows for close analysis of films as well as lots of hands-on practice with the camera, sound recording, and with editing software. On the first day of class, students dive into learning camera operation and audio recording. They then make short silent films over the course of a few days.

In the meantime, they discuss the qualities of a good story, watch film clips for analysis and inspiration, and learn screenplay formatting. Eventually, students write and “pitch” their original screenplays, and the students as a team choose films to produce in the final weeks of class.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #505 (Wednesday, April 10, 2019). This story appeared on page B6.

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