EMAC hosts CHS’ own film festival

Coppell Middle School West eighth grade media students Gracie Webb and Lindsay Hopkins do Isy Martinez's makeup for her role as "The Screech" in their short film. Photo courtesy of Monica Champagne.
Coppell Middle School West eighth grade media students Gracie Webb and Lindsay Hopkins do Isy Martinez’s makeup for her role as “The Screech” in their short film. Photo courtesy of Monica Champagne.
Seventh grade Coppell Middle School West multimedia student Sam Castranova dresses as a nerd for his short film titled "Confidence". Photo courtesy of Monica Champagne.
Seventh grade Coppell Middle School West multimedia student Sam Castranova dresses as a nerd for his short film titled “Confidence”. Photo courtesy of Monica Champagne.

Nikki Dabney

Staff Writer

For the last couple of months, many students across Coppell have spent their weekends and free time filming all over town, writing script and producing and editing their own short film for the upcoming CHS Film Festival.

The Emerging Media and Communications Academy (EMAC) at Coppell High School gives students a taste of the field of media and prepares them for potential careers in film or journalism.

Every year EMAC prepares a showcase of the students’ work, where they can create an in-depth piece that sets them apart as college applicants.

This year, EMAC will have a film festival where groups are formed and given a topic a week in advance to brainstorm and preplan. The day of the event, April 29, the students will produce and edit their film as well as publicize it through social media within about five hours.

The festival will provide EMAC students with the real-world challenge of working under a deadline.  EMAC is also hosting a district-wide film festival open to all CISD students grades six through 12. All films were submitted by March 18 and the winners, as well as the best films produced by EMAC students that day, will be viewed in the CHS auditorium.

“[Coppell ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeff Turner] has always wanted to see a film festival happen for about seven years now and after EMAC was created, it laid a perfect path for a film festival to happen,” EMAC president, junior Megan Menegay, said. “Everything just fell into place this year. We decided to open it up to the six through 12 graders because we know that everyone has talent, whether they’ve discovered it or not.”

EMAC received a positive response with over 50 short film submissions that they had to extend the deadline. Some classes are collaborating to create a film together; even media students from middle schools are participating as well.

The Multimedia/Video Production students at Coppell Middle School West (CMSW) were required to produce a short film and were given the option to submit it to the CHS Film Festival. Students chose their own topics and were required to complete a plot chart, script and storyboard before filming and were provided feedback on those planning pieces. They were also given a rubric to show them the story writing, filming, and video editing skills they were expected to incorporate.

“I felt it would be a great motivational tool for the students,” CMSW Multimedia/Video Production teacher Monica Champagne said. “Broadening their audience and introducing competition encourages students to produce their best work.”

KCBY’s short film crew consisting of seniors Josh Brunelli, Mason Adams, Joe Han, Adam Borel and Eric Park will debut “The Mammoth Affray”, a student produced short film entered into numerous film festivals nationwide.

“It’s quite an interesting feeling to have our film premiere after working on it so long,” Adams said. “It will be good to see others react to our film rather than just seeing our friends’ reactions.”

While there are many film festivals in the Dallas area, the CHS Film Festival is unique because it is more of an entry level competition for students who may not have much experience in film and editing.

“Middle school students aren’t exposed to people who do this all the time like in KCBY, so they can see what it’s like so if they enjoy it it’s something they can work toward,” EMAC sophomore representative Jamie Francis said.

Films will be judged by local filmmakers and owners of Chazown Films Michael and DeAnza Spangler.

There are two divisions, middle school and high school, and the winner of each will receive a $100 cash prize. Several local businesses have chosen to sponsor the event. Sponsorships come in three packages. Silver is $50, gold is $100 to $200 and platinum is more than $200.

One local company, YOUR Community Credit Union (YCCU), has pledged the platinum donation. YCCU regularly supports EMAC and the media program at CHS.

“Anytime we are able to sponsor events that promote youth in our communities, the school benefits, our business benefits and the community benefits,” YCCU Vice President of Marketing Rick Stokes said. “It’s simply a win-win for everyone.”

YCCU has also chosen the EMAC Academy to create a series of commercials for the company. The marketing team is working on reaching a different demographic- young, Generation Y, educated consumers.

“We are utilizing the services of EMAC because they represent a large part of the demographic we are targeting,” Stokes said. “Who better to create the commercials than people who are most able to relate to the message we want to send?”

Film Patterson, owned by CHS special education teacher Andrew Patterson, is donating the use of a high definition projector for the festival.

“I chose to donate because I feel that it’s very important to encourage and promote interest in the visual arts for the up and coming generation,” Film Patterson Technical Director Tony Couzelis said. “Film offers a creative complexity level seldom seen in other mediums.”

EMAC students look forward to this year’s film festival becoming the first of many more to come.

“It is interesting to see how many students walk the halls every day and have so much talent that they don’t have an outlet for,” Francis said. “We want them to see that if they work hard toward something there will be an amazing outcome. As years progress, we hope to discover new talent through the festival.”