“The story begins with a cupcake on his way to a bakery in the city,” Bethel High School students Nicole Cibu and Dayna Kretkowski described the adventure that will soon be a short film for their 3D Modeling and Animation class. “Along the way, he meets a banana, who accompanies the cupcake on the trip. Meanwhile, in the city, an infestation of cockroaches is trying to keep everyone from getting into the bakery.”
BHS Junior Aidan Neuner is the Director of Animation, and directs the team of students who are creating cities, props, even 3D eyeballs. Neuner came up with the story line for the 3D animation film that will be shown to third graders. The entire class is involved in the project, and each student has a job. Several young men were working hard on the 3D modeling computer program. Dayna Kretkowski is the producer of the film. Daniela Vega is in charge of distribution and sales. Carlota Charles and Leah Principe are the screenwriters.
Most of the students intend to pursue a career in movie making. Principe said the class definitely opened her eyes to the film industry. Both she and Charles took a fully credited, virtual, online, screenwriting class last semester. Charles said that every week they had online lessons and their scripts were reviewed.
The short film will be included in the state's Student Film Festival on May 11 at the Palace theatre in Waterbury. This is the third annual festival and this year, twenty school districts will participate. Bethel High School students submitted a film last year and won three awards, which was the most ever won by one school at one time.
On Tuesday, veteran animator Bob Camp, animator on the movie, Ice Age 2 and other well known films and television shows, showed the class his own sketches and storyboards. Charles said, “We usually make simple sketches, his were really intense.”
Camp's visit was coordinated by Matthew Worwood of the Center for 21st Century Skills at Education Connection Center, the organization that produces the Connecticut Student Film Festival. Bethel High School students submitted a film last year, and won three awards, which was the most ever won by one school at one time.
The program is part of the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, which focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), while introducing students to professional work situations in high school. Camp's visit was part of that. Worwood said, “We bring in industry professionals to help the students understand the project-based learning environment. It's one of the blessings of the program; it provides them with information about the industry.”
Each year the organization offers the students a challenge. “The challenge this year was to develop the next 3D animated Hollywood blockbuster. That is what these kids are working on.”
In keeping with the STEM goal of integrating other subjects into the material, Worwood said that the 3D Modeling Class is part of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, which also includes lessons in science, and a geometry course.
“We received the Investing in Innovation grant to implement the Academy in 12 school districts. Our organization was chosen number six out of 49 other successful applicants nationwide, and the only one in CT to receive this funding from the US Department of Education.”
“This class is the first class to implement the academy as designed, they are now three years into the program and I feel we are already seeing the results," Worwood said. The Bethel class was the first to pilot the academy program, and there are now seven other schools that began this year. Thanks to the increase in funding, another five are due to start this fall.”
Teacher Karen Fildes has known many of these students since elementary school and has been with this program since it started three years ago. “These students have grown tremendously through the years in this program, but not only in their role as film makers or animators, but also in their leadership, professionalism and ability to collaborate on projects. They work with many adult mentors and students from other schools, and they have really developed their ability to communicate, manage their time, and problem solve.”
Each of the students working on the project plays a key part in the success of the film. Their names are: