That’s a take! Youngsters learn filmmaking at URI summer camp

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KINGSTON, RI – July 11, 2013 – Budding filmmakers are on the University of Rhode Island campus this week for a camp that could turn them into the next Spielberg or Bigelow.

More than 40 youngsters, ages 8 to 16, are taking classes in screenwriting, storyboarding, acting, directing, lighting and production design in the five-day camp that ends with a wrap.

“It gives kids a chance to explore the arts,” says Nick Palermo, co-director. “Every career out there is using film to convey a story now, so it’s a great opportunity. It’s also a great way to learn about storytelling and teamwork. At the same time, it’s a huge blast.”

This is the 15th year of the camp, sponsored by URI’s Film and Media Program and the Harrington School of Communication and Media, as well as Sony and Rule Boston Camera. Flickers: The Rhode Island International Film Festival runs the camp.

In fact, the campers’ films will be shown at 10 a.m. Aug. 10 at The Vets, 1 Avenue of the Arts in Providence, as part of the nonprofit group’s annual international film festival.

“One of our goals is to reach out to the community through the visual arts,” says Shawn Quirk, the festival’s program director. “Through this camp we hope to help the next generation get a head start on how to speak its mind and bring up issues that concern them through film.”

Many of the youngsters write their own screenplays. They also learn how to tell a story through film, focusing on everything from where to stand for the best light to how to hold a boom pole for sound. Acting workshops are offered. Teamwork, a crucial element in film production, is emphasized.

One big name has already made an appearance: Robert Capron, who played Rowley in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movies and had a voice role in the animated film “Frankenweenie.”

“He was really cool,” says Jenson Tavares, 13, of Kingston, a returning camper. “I felt like he could relate to us because he’s only 15 and we’re his age. He was smart. He was funny.”

She compared the session to the popular TV series “Inside the Actors Studio,” during which a host and actors chat about the ups and downs of the profession. One of the lighter moments during Capron’s talk came when he told the campers he glued a wig to his head for his “Wimpy” role.

Tavares and her fellow campers are creating a short film about bullying. Tavares plays Stacy, a friend of the bullying victim. “She easily gets frustrated with him,” says Tavares, “but she’s never mean to him. She gives him pointers and tips.”

The eighth-grader is looking forward to the film’s red-carpet debut in Providence.

“It’s exciting making the film because I want to be an actress,” she says. “This is my second time coming to the camp, and I love every minute.”

So does Laura Creese, 16, of North Kingstown, a camper for the past nine years. This year, she’s working as a counselor, inspiring others to be as passionate about filmmaking as she is.

“You can take a story and bring it to life and share it with a lot of people,” she says. “It’s amazing. This has been such a great experience for me I’m thinking about studying film in college.”

The Rhode Island International Film Festival showcases international cinema. Ranked as one of the top 12 festivals in the United States, the festival is one of 75 worldwide that is a qualifying festival for the Academy Awards through its partnership with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.

The festival will run from Aug. 6 through 11 at The Vets, 1 Avenue of the Arts, in Providence. More than 200 films and videos will be screened for the thousands expected.

For more information about the festival or camp, visit or call 401-861-4445.

A program note: popcorn will be served during the campers’ films.

Pictured above: Jenson Tavares, 13, of Kingston, and fellow campers shoot a scene for a movie they are making at a filmmaking camp this week at the University of Rhode Island. From left to right, Tavares, Brook Golding, 13, of North Kingstown, Kimberly Ekstrand, 14, of Matunuck, and Nicholas Roth, 13, of New York.

Photo by Michael Salerno Photography.