Middle school students produce full-length feature film
HIGHLANDS RANCH – On Friday, May 15, search light beams waved across the night sky at Mountain Ridge Middle School for its first full-length movie premiere night. Students, parents and staff strolled the red carpet, arm in arm, as they passed the clicks of the paparazzi yearbook cameras and entered the doors to find their seat for this unique school event.
Families and friends stopped to have their photo taken by a professional photographer as anticipation grew for the screening of the hour-long movie that took students a year to make. The cast, dressed in bow ties and formal gowns, stopped on the red carpet for quick interviews that were live-streamed into the auditorium as the audience settled in their seats.
The first few seconds of the film found the crowd already roaring with applause. The movie is an adaptation of the of 1980’s television show, “21 Jump Street,” starring Johnny Depp. This remake, scripted by Mountain Ridge students, brought the story into present day, adding relevance for today's generation of kids. The movie is a mystery, but still full of humor, action and an onslaught of teacher cameos that caused the house to erupt with audience cheers.
“Since it was our first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I couldn’t be more excited about what these kids put together. I am blown away by their hard work and what they have put into this,” said Principal Shannon Clarke.
At the film’s conclusion, the cast and crew gathered on the stage for Q & A with the audience. A member of the audience asked students, “Did you really drive that car?” From the audience, a father shouted, “Yes, Dad would like to know that too!” The crew explained how it was all done with a series of visual and special effects, one of their favorite parts of the film to create.
The premiere was the first time that many of the cast had seen the final cut of the film. Christian Caronia, who had the lead role said, “I was nervous, not seeing the final edit; it was a surprise, but really exciting.”
As the evening concluded, every student who worked on the film packed the stage as they were acknowledged for their hard work. Students presented Teacher Brett Beckett with flowers and thanks for the endless hours he invested. Beckett’s voice cracked with emotion when he spoke about the students' hard work.
“The students chose the topic of the movie, they rewrote and adapted a screenplay, they created a storyboard and scouted locations, held auditions, interacted with community members and resources, had to learn software and equipment, filmed themselves in multiple environments with both welcoming and harsh conditions, managed lighting, editing, sound production, foley artistry, exporting, backing up, re-editing, voice-overs, re-editing, color correction and re-editing over and over and over again” Beckett said.
As the evening's events neared conclusion, hints of next year’s film slipped in, and audience anticipation has already began to build with the suggestion of another full-length film.
“I was never prouder to be a teacher, nor prouder of my students, than I was at this event. Nervous, but proud,” Beckett said.