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Sandy Journal

Lights, Camera, Action — Canyons Film Festival Set

Mar 27, 2015 07:38AM ● By Julie Slama

Presenters Camille Cole and Jeff Haney prepare to award winners during the Canyons School District Film Festival last year.

The 6th annual Canyons School District Film Festival will have its red carpet ready at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 16 at Eastmont Middle School to honor student and teacher filmmakers.

New this year will be four levels of competition, giving middle school students a chance to compete against each other, separate from high school students. There also will be competitions for elementary students and teachers.

Within each level are the following film categories: feature films, documentaries, animation, public service announcements, newscasts and advertisements. There is no theme for the competition, and entries can be used from classroom assignments or Parent-Teacher Association Reflections contest. There also is a poster contest, and the winning poster will be used for the next year’s contest.

“What makes this special is that it’s a unique way of learning, different than other district learning,” film festival project lead and elementary education tech specialist Katie Blunt said. “It offers creativity and fun in a learning project that is based on curriculum content. We’ve had documentaries from history class, digital citizenship about cyber bullying and Internet safety as PSAs — subjects students learn in school where they then need to learn to organize, research and write before they film.”

Blunt said these films also give students real-world experiences, from lighting and editing to planning and communication.

“For example, with a PSA, it’s a real-world application. Students pick a message, then they learn how to express it and deliver it in a strong message. With advertising, they work with an actual business and use their resources to learn how to make their client happy,” she said.

The film festival has grown from its origins, First created under elementary team lead education technician Kelly Dumont when Canyons was still part of the Jordan School District, only a handful of people gathered to see the films. Although Dumont’s passion for filmmaking and having the positive experience for students remains, it grew under former education tech specialist Wade Harman and elementary education tech specialist Camille Cole into a bigger celebration.

Now, more than 350 people fill the auditorium during the red carpet event, put on similar to the Oscars, and last year, 72 entries and 157 participants advanced to the district level. Many schools host their own film festivals either to determine which films will advance or to celebrate student accomplishments in filmmaking.

Winners receive a film canister trophy along with a gift bag of items donated from the film festival and sponsoring companies.