Teens learn to make movies

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com
John Sjogren, left, an instructor for the film camp held last week in Pawhuska, gives pointers about camera work to Dayton Drummonds, center, and Emma Linsenmeyer. Camp participants were learning, in a classroom at Pawhuska High School, how to film a scene.

A film-industry camp, the first ever for Pawhuska, last week taught participating teenagers how to do the tedious, detailed work that makes all the on-screen magic possible.

Organizers and staff said the camp was a success, in particular because of great attitudes and hard work on the part of the campers.

Elle Jewell, of camp sponsor DEK Productions, said 13 youth participated in the weeklong opportunity to learn practical details about making films from instructors who are industry professionals. The campers ranged in age from 14-19, and DEK provided the instruction free of charge.

The company name, DEK, refers to David Von Roehm, Elle Jewell and Kerry Wallum, who are veterans of the film world. All three took a hand in the instructional process during the camp, and Jesse Huggins, a young actor and camera man, joined them in Pawhuska.

“I’m glad to see kids dreaming,” Wallum said.

“They all had such great attitudes,” Jewell said of the students. She said that actor, director, producer Joe Estevez and other instructors commented on “the high quality of students and just their great attitudes.”

The daily camp work schedule ran from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and participants stayed busy, Jewell said, emphasizing that “they worked.”

Camp participants came from Pawhuska and several other communities, she said, mentioning Bartlesville, Owasso, Tulsa, McAlester and Oklahoma City, as well.

Instructor Kyle Warren, who was leading a class about making Claymation (clay animation) figures on the day that a Journal-Capital representative attended, noted that students worked diligently and completed their assigned tasks in less than the time allowed.

Jewell said the film-campers eagerly took responsibility for their assignments, whether that involved learning to direct, or to do cinematography; “every role that you have, [is] from behind the camera to in front of the camera,” she said.

Reactions of camp participants ranged from the enjoyment of meeting people with similar interests, to changes in perspective on movies.

“I loved geeking out with like-minded people for a week,” film-camper Jillian Scroggins said.

Jewell and other camp organizers observed campers making individual progress, and performing well in group settings when called upon to do so.

“These kids were working so cohesively,” she said. “We did not have one behavioral problem.”

“It was so cool to see kids take on mentorship roles,” Jewell said, explaining that campers helped one another meet challenges. “They were so kind to one another. They were encouraging of one another, as well.”

There was a screening Friday afternoon at The Constantine Theater, including film shorts and interviews.

Jewell said campers were interested in learning more.

“They said, ‘When are you coming back next year?’” she said.

“I see movies in a whole new way now,” camp participant Phillip Kane said. “I didn’t realize how much behind-the-scenes work was involved.”

Jewell thanked the executive board of Preserving Arts in the Osage for its support. Representatives of Preserving Arts in the Osage were able to meet and talk with film camp instructors and organizers in a social setting at The Pioneer Woman Lodge, on Drummond Ranch.

“We couldn’t have done this without Preserving Arts in the Osage,” she said.

When the PJC visited the film camp Wednesday afternoon at Pawhuska High School, there was a group working with Estevez, and with director producer, camera-specialist John Sjogren, to learn to film a short scene. They worked over the scene in detail, making small changes, until they were ready to actually film it.

In a nearby PHS classroom, another group worked with instructor Kyle Warren to learn the process of creating Claymation models.

In addition to the camp participants, their family members and friends took an interest in what was a new experience for Pawhuska.

Phillip Kane’s mother, Cyndi, was impressed by how much the camp accomplished in a week.

“I was awed by how much DEK was able to accomplish in one short week – the kids went from zero to hero,” Mrs. Kane said. “We were very blessed to have this incredible film school in our little village.”