Calcasieu Parish students won big at the recent Film Prize Jr. Film competition and festival in Shreveport.
The students won the Shane Brown Memorial Founder’s Circle Award for “Best Stop-Motion/Animation” Short Film.
These students hail from Sulfur and Vinton High Schools and were encouraged to submit their work to this festival by their television production teacher, Pamela Dixon.
“The Film Prize Jr. Festival was an exciting experience for the students,” said Dixon, who teaches at Sulfur High School. “They were able to see their films presented to the public on the big screen.”
“The students felt like royalty.”
This is the first year Dixon has brought students to the Film Prize Jr. Festival, and she plans to make it an annual tradition.
The winning film, “2 Minds 1 Murder”, was written, filmed, produced and edited by Sulfur High School graduate Gavin Dugas. “’2 Minds 1 Murder’ was technically something I had in mind for a few years. I had always wanted to do a crime novel, and now seemed like the right time to finally achieve my vision,” Dugas said. “I was incredibly excited when it received an award. There were around 70 films and around 8 won.
Dugas said the experience of filming was “incredibly fun and incredibly stressful”, but filming with friends was worth it. “Shooting with them made the whole process better,” he said. “Conner Harper and Kharma Little, who are in TV production with me, were terrific in the film.
Vinton High School graduate Harper and Sulfur High School student Little agreed. “I always love working with friends because they’re people I can rely on who share the same passion as me, which makes for great teamwork and perfect feedback,” Harper said.
“It improved the overall experience because you didn’t have to worry about hearing each other,” Little explained. “You could just have fun as a team of friends rather than just people who were forced to do a project together.”
Both Harper and Little starred in “2 Minds, 1 Murder.” This movie was produced with a group called Chillnxd, which is based on Dugas and Carson Brackeen’s youtube channel.
Little also produced a film called “Bad Day”, with his band Waffles Rebaked. “Although it didn’t win any awards, it was still a lot of fun to do!”
The students who participated in this festival learned their skills in Dixon’s TVP class at Sulfur High School.
According to Dixon, students learn to use professional field and studio cameras, video mixers, audio mixers and other video equipment.
“They learn video composition, how to properly and creatively frame their shots; how to effectively edit a video using Adobe Premiere Pro, an industry standard editing software that they can get certified for, which gives them an industry-based certification. They learn how to generate ideas for videos or stories, gather information, interview people on camera, film events, broadcast sports and other events live, write scripts for news or promotional content, producing newsletters, anchoring newsletters,” she explained. “Most importantly, they learn communication skills, how to tell a story or articulate information in a way that is relevant to a target audience, skills that will serve them well in any career path and in everyday life.
While Dixon’s class focused on the technical side of film and television, she believed the art of filmmaking to be a powerful medium. “It’s in this art that determines how well you can attract an audience and hold their attention,” she said. “The way the video is presented can evoke feelings, educate, change minds, entertain, inform and sadly sometimes misinform.”
His students agree. Little finds film important because it allows you “to express any emotion through the screen”, while Dugas thinks “the importance of film to me is allowing people to show and to express stories and ideas and to simply push the limits of the human mind and create new things that we never dreamed of.
“Film is such a rich art form because of each person’s different view of it,” Harper explained. “You can take this festival as an example. There was drama, horror, documentaries and comedies like mine. Being able to show people the unique perspective I have on cinema makes me so happy.
Little will be entering his senior year at Sulfur High School. After her studies, she intends to attend SOWELA for a degree in cinema or graphic arts.
Dugas and Harper are currently interning at CBS Lake Charles. Dugas will attend LSU in Baton Rouge to continue her studies in film, while Harper plans to attend SOWELA.