Cedar Rapids students all have roles in school club movie :: WRAL.com


— Students from Jackson Elementary School recently walked the red carpet at the Marcus Theaters for the premiere of a movie they made at an afterschool club.

About 200 people watched the 25-minute courtroom drama on May 14. The plot involves a chef accused of poisoning an actress to prevent her from getting a big role in a movie.

The film was produced by students at Jackson Elementary’s Film Club, where students write a script, build sets and props, act, direct, and edit a short film.

“There’s a place for everyone,” said Ryan Patterson, fifth-grade Jackson teacher and Film Club advisor. “If they want to act, we guarantee them at least a line of dialogue.”

Some students had to memorize “hundreds of words of dialogue,” said Patterson, who said he enjoys helping students “bring their vision to life.”

Students, he told the Cedar Rapids Gazette, are taught to be vulnerable when acting, some using accents, others dressing in outlandish costumes.

The club used Patterson’s phone to film the video. The majority of the scenes were filmed in Jackson’s library, where the courtroom set still stands.

It is the third film created by the club.

The last time the club completed a film was in 2019. The film being produced during the 2019-2020 school year had to be canceled when schools closed in March 2020 to slow the spread of the COVID-19.

“We lost two years,” Patterson said. “A few classes completely missed the project.”

Three sixth graders from Taft Middle School – who were among those who failed to make a Jackson film – returned this year to help write the script and direct the film.

Mary Corizzo, 11, a sixth-grade student from Taft, helped write the script and said her inspiration came from the TV show “Blue Bloods,” a drama about a multigenerational family of cops in New York City.

The other two screenwriters, 12-year-old Kaitlyn Miller and 12-year-old Ainsley Nydle, also sixth-graders at Taft, brought real-life experiences of having lawyer parents.

Ainsley is also part of Taft’s mock trial team, where she learned how to write questions, cross-examine a witness, and write opening statements and closing arguments.

Kaitlyn, who helped direct the film, said she enjoyed helping students memorize their lines and express the words. The students, she said, worked hard to develop the personality of their film character.

Tenley Hamer, 11, a fifth-grade student from Jackson, played the prosecutor, Nicole Jones, who tries to prove that the actress was poisoned.

Tenley is a “really good actor,” Kaitlyn said.

Tenley said she enjoyed playing her character, who is outgoing and has significant dialogue.

The cameras, lights and set made it feel like a real movie, she added.

Patterson said the Film Club is unique to Jackson Elementary, 1300 38th St. NW, and he hopes it will continue next year when Jackson students move into the new Maple Grove Elementary, built next to their current school.

The members of the ciné-club each received a copy of their film, which is not accessible to the public.


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