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    Seattle Skills Center Media Arts Courses Give Students an Avenue for Creative Expression
    Posted on 09/21/2018
    Students in the media arts video production class create a film

    Seattle Skills Center Media Arts Courses Give Students an Avenue for Creative Expression

    Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Skills Center and the Seattle Office of Film + Music have partnered together to offer students an exciting opportunity to learn about the inner workings of film production. In the summer offering of the course, students gained valuable experience visiting local movie sets, writing and producing their own films, and gained perspectives into what happens behind the scenes.

    As a course, media arts was offered only in the summer, but beginning this school year, students can sign up for classes throughout the year.

    According to Dillon de Give, a Summer Skills Center teacher in media arts, Seattle has much to offer students who have a piqued interest in film. “Our city hosts the Northwest Film Forum,” said de Give. “For students that want to know more, there are multiple resources available. The city’s climate does offer opportunities.”

    De Give also wanted students to discover the wealth of careers available in film, in addition to the standard acting and directing roles. “There are so many other jobs on the set, and I wanted students to see that for themselves. For example, they had a chance to meet an on-site medic when we visited the movie set. One doesn’t have to go to film school for that,” mentioned de Give.

    As a teacher, the most rewarding aspect of the summer film class was seeing students write and produce their own films as part of the final project, noted de Give.

    A high school student named Chair created a short animation showing their history of drawing over the years. Eva did a short profile of her sister’s rock climbing ambitions, and a student named Max did a piece on the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. One group of students made a music video, and another did an action movie sequence. “The quality and creativity of student work was impressive,” recalled de Give, as he emphasized the stories and layers of creativity the young filmmakers displayed.

    One freshman student, Veronica, was inspired by her grandmother’s immigration story from Cuba. “I knew very little about my grandmother and her sister’s story, so when Mr. de Give assigned a final project to the class, the first thing I thought about was my heritage,” she said.

    One evening, Veronica went over to her grandmother’s house, sat with her and began looking through old photos. As the conversation started to flow – Veronica listening, asking questions, and her grandmother reflecting – the past came to light.

    Veronica’s grandmother left Cuba when she was around 11 or 12 years old. “She was only a kid in her hometown when she made the decision to come to America,” Veronica described. “She experienced a controlling environment, which made her want to leave; but it was also scary for her to come to a new country.”

    As she weaved the pieces of her grandmother’s story together, Veronica thought about the feelings, the mood, and the story she wanted her audience to experience “Coming to a new country…it was scary at that age. It’s a frightful thing. I want people to gain new perspectives,” she said. “It’s not something you think about.”

    Intro to Video Production is an exploratory course offered through the Summer Skills Center program to all rising 9th – 12th graders in Seattle Public Schools. Students who develop a passion for media arts through career and technical education courses like this one may go on to take courses at their high school in video production, graphic design, web design, and recording arts technology. Starting in the fall of 2018, students (age 16-20) are now able to enroll in the Media Arts at the Seattle Skills Center, a capstone experience preparing students who want to pursue a career in media arts.

    For Veronica, the class was an introduction to the media arts. She entered the class with curiosity for this medium and is now looking forward to taking more classes from the breadth of media arts courses offered through the Seattle Skills Center.