Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

February 21, 2006 > And the award goes to...

And the award goes to...

by Lance Dwyer

The Academy Awards- the premier night for the film industry- are just around the corner. One Kennedy High School filmmaker has dreams of someday making it to the big screen, and he appears to be well on his way.

Michael Parks directed the short film JFK High School Uncensored, a selection for the Film Screening and Awards Night sponsored by Project YouthView and Comcast. The event will take place at the Bay Theater at Alameda Point.

Uncensored was one of seven choices out of 60 submissions for the event. Parks, along with classmates, Joel Roman, Jeff Loya, Vicente Barriga, and Son Hoang, who all helped to produce it, will receive an award for their work.

The film was a product of an advanced video class taught by Barbara Feist at Kennedy High School through the Mission Valley Regional Occupational Program (ROP). In this class, students are given the opportunity to nurture or simply experiment with their filmmaking endeavors.

Feist gives her students the tools needed to put together their own films and simulate all aspects of the film process, including pre-production planning, budgeting, scripting and even hiring a crew. Most films are produced by a group with each person being assigned the role of director, producer, camera person, editor, production assistant or assistant director.

She is always amazed by the productions and impressed with how "the students understand how many different layers are involved in making a film, both technically and in building a story."

The fact that a film directed by Parks was selected for Project YouthView's Film Screening and Awards Night came as no surprise to Feist, as Parks had already demonstrated the extent of his talent.

Michael "has a great eye for editing and directing our history, he also writes his own scripts but even if he's taking another student's script he can come up with so many different ways of looking at it and different angles for the camera, which is rare early on," said Feist. "He is successful in conveying his message and touching emotions."

Not bad for someone who said he first got involved in film by "default." Feist said that she tends to get students who are at different levels; those who come into the class already interested in film and have experience making them, and those who come mainly to fulfill a credit. Parks, originally one of the latter, obviously has begun to realize his passion for filmmaking.

"When I picked up the visual aspect of film and the many different shots, I started to understand and I really liked it," said Parks.

The focus of his film, JFK High School Uncensored, was a byproduct of Parks' diverse curricular activities. In addition to being a talented filmmaker, Parks was named homecoming king in lieu of being captain of the football team and serving as a peer advocate. Parks wanted the film to serve as a resource for junior high students who may have had preconceived misconceptions about high school.

The film simulates some of the typical myths that junior high students may have held about high school and then deconstructs them through student interviews.

Parks said he is proud of the piece not only because it is being acclaimed for its quality direction and production, but also for its value to the community. "When you get to show it to people and you get good, you get this good feeling." And added, "And it's good to know that you got out there and you're helping other people in your community."

Along with many of his other classmates, Parks is in the process of planning their own film festival, tentatively set for June 3. It will be called Mission Valley Film Fest '06. The event will be an opportunity for filmmakers of the ROP program as well as students from all over the Bay Area to submit their work and have it showcased in front of their community.

The students planning the event are now accepting submissions and are looking for donors for prizes as well as other costs for the event, so that costs can be kept down for students attending.

To submit films or donations for the Mission Valley Films Fest '06:
Mission Valley ROP
40230 Laiolo Road
Fremont, CA 94538-2699

Film Screening and Awards Night
Feb. 25
7 p.m.
Bay Theater in Alameda Point
2751 Todd St., Alameda
(510) 748-4314
Tickets are $12

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