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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Scroll and pen meet camera and lens

Creative writing classes’ take on turning their writing into real life through two short films
Nick Wood
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Senior Rosemarie Nevland takes hold of the camera, during the first day of work on one of the creative writing short films, ‘name of film’ with the help filmmaker Andrew Fisher from the Austin Film Festival.

Making a new world, creating something new and unique, is nothing but an every other day experience for students in Bowie’s creative writing class. These students decided to take their creations and turn them into something not only to read but also watch.

The creative writing class here at Bowie is taught by English Teacher Jacob Morgan and is offered to junior and seniors as an elective.

“The writing we do in school is very academic-centered, so being able to see students express themselves and just explore their creativity is refreshing,” Morgan said.  “It’s refreshing to see and hear what they come up with.”

Throughout the school year, the students cover several different styles of writing.

“We do everything, non-fiction essays, short stories, poetry, and a few more,” Morgan said. “It gives students a real chance to experiment with format and style when it comes to writing.”

Morgan has been at Bowie for 10 years and has been teaching creative writing since he arrived at the school.

“The program has been around since my first day here, and the kids that take it seem to enjoy having an outlet,” Morgan said. “This class provides them with a place where they can express their creativity because in school the writing is so structured.”

Every year, Morgan partners with the Austin Film Festival to help teach students how to produce films and bring their stories to life.

“Each year they send a filmmaker from the festival with equipment,” Morgan said. “So, they are taught how to use everything by professionals and also have them as a resource throughout the process.”

With the help of one of the filmmakers from the festival, students produce two different screenplays.

“Each class period voted for the script they thought would be the best to film, and they made some really good choices,” Morgan said. “This year both scripts were written by seniors, who are second year students in this class.”

Every student in class writes a screenplay and both classes have to narrow down the best options for their class. There are films made in each class period. Seniors Jadon Demetri and Sakari Jackson were the two writers whose screenplays were chosen.

“I was really surprised when they picked my story,” Jackson said “My classmates said ‘this is the one we are gonna film,’ I was not expecting it at all,”

READY TO ROLL: Preparing to begin their film, a creative writing student writes the details of the scene on the clapboard. ‘The Texas Murder Spree’ was originally written by senior Sakari Jackson, who intended the film to be a fusion of horror and comedy (Nick Wood)

Jackson wrote a script called “The Texas Murder Spree,” with the intention of it being a horror-based film with an underlying aspect of comedy.

“The goal was to make it funny, and everyone in the class seems to think it hilarious, and fun to film,” Jackson said

The creative writing students are in charge of every step that’s crucial to creating their films and making the story come to life.

“While we do have a filmmaker come in and teach the students about how to use the equipment and create the overall film, it is very much them doing the work themselves,” Morgan said. “Unlike the other assignments they are being forced to share their creative processes and come together to collectively create something.”

Creativity is the priority for this class. According to Morgan, it’s crucial to the success of not only their different pieces of writing throughout the year, but also with these short films.

“The only really big limitation is the setting because they are filming everything on campus,” Morgan said. “So, getting some settings that they want is more difficult than driving somewhere that fits their vision.”

This year, the creative writing students have also had to adapt to one more task, other than location casting, filming, and editing.

“Last year the guy from the film festival edited both of the short films for us, but this year we have to do it ourselves,” Jackson said. “And I’m not looking forward to it, because I want the film to be perfect and come to life perfectly.”

While Jackson wrote the script, she wasn’t alone in bringing it to life.

“I wouldn’t say I had only one co-director,” Jackson said. “I was unable to be there the first day of filming, so there was a group of people who really stepped up, and I consider all of them co-directors in a sense.”

Other than just capturing the film on camera, Jacksons co-directors also help make sure the film is exploding with the perfect balance of ideas.

“I’m really open to feedback and ideas, if someone has something to say I want to hear it,” Jackson said. “This isn’t just my short film, it’s all of ours and I want the final product to show that.”

Although there are parts of the process that Jackson isn’t looking forward to, overall she has positive feelings towards the whole process.

“ It’s a highly creative class, in such a serious school setting,” Jackson said. “I appreciate the opportunity it gives me to express myself and have fun every other day.”

I think its important to have this opportunity to write creatively in High School, it’s fees freeing and you get to experiment.

— Sakari Jackson, Creative Writing Student

The second film chose by the group, written by Demetri, is ‘Don’t Cry. Vote.’ is about a high school kid causing a ruckus on campus before having a crisis of conscience.

“Its about a villainous kid named Dig Billbanks,” Morgan said. “Its really interesting to see how these stories relate or don’t relate at all to the students lives.”

For the creative writing students who have been working the last two weeks, their deadline is approaching faster.

“A lot is going on with editing, filming, and putting everything together,” Morgan said. “Especially when it comes down to, two films being made that are very different.”

While the vision of Demetri’s film was different than that of Jackson’s, this class period was just as inspired to bring it to life and work together.

“I think collectively both class periods have created something authentically them,” Morgan said.“In the process, they have also created a very unique memory for themselves.”

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