The Mabry Film Festival
What is the Mabry Film Festival?
Each year each team in our school is required to submit a 2 minute i-Movie based on a theme. Our theme in 2004 - 2005 was Celebrate Achievement. Student participation on the movie-making team is completely voluntary. Once the movies are submitted in April, they are placed in categories, similar to the Oscars. A panel of judges determines what movie wins in each category. Our judges are not from Mabry Middle School and represent a significant amount of expertise in this area.
Individual students and groups of students independent of the 12 school teams may submit movies in the Independent Film category. Movies entered in this category are not eligible to compete in any other category, including the Best Picture category. However, all of these movies may compete for the iBook computer and digital video camera should one have been donated to the school for this award.
Because of the number of requests we have received, alumni of Mabry Middle School are also eligible to enter a movie. Movies submitted by alumni are only eligible to compete in the Alumni Category.
All movies must meet rather stringent criteria set by the school in order to qualify for the film festival.
Why Does Mabry Do This?
In 2001 Dr. Tyson began the Mabry Film Festival to increase the use of technology at Mabry. At that time Mabry only had 4 laptops and no digital video equipment. How things have changed.
The intent is to increase technology and information literacy skills, to make the use of technology transparent in the learning process. Just like placing a phone call, the user does not consciously think about the actual phone but uses the tool thoughtlessly to communicate. Dr. Tyson wants teachers and students to focus on appropriate use of technology to enhance the learning experience of our students--to use technology to learn, not to learn technology per se.
Research indicates that when students use digital movie-making in the curriculum, they don't initially really learn any more than students who do not. However, the retention of the material they learned is profoundly increased one year later. The overwhelming majority of the learning moves into long-term memory and doesn't just stay in short-term memory.
How Are Students Trained?
In late November each team selects one teacher, one student, and one parent to attend a one day training. The training is comprehensive and covers all of the requirements, timelines for project development, and expectations for qualification. The students seem to pick up the technical aspects of the project as if technology were second-nature to them.
All students who plan to use the digital video cameras must be camera-trained by their sponsoring teacher and earn their "camera license." Students may not check out a digital video camera without presenting their camera license to Mrs. Preston.
Throughout the 4 month project Mabry has been fortunate enough to have an actual director/producer come in and meet with the movie-making teams 5 times. He provides suggestions related to concept development, artistic merit, and technical skill development to the teams who may choose to take his suggestions or not.
When Do Students Work on Their Movie?
Most of the work is done before or after school. However, each individual project is designed and scheduled by the teacher sponsoring and the students participating in the project in any given year. In talking with students after they have submitted their movie, the average movie-making team member spends about 50 hours individually on this project.
May Students Check Out Equipment?
Yes and no. Equipment (computer and digital video camera only) is available for check out under limited conditions:
- Only a parent whose child is actively on the movie-making team may check them out after school is out and must check them in before school starts the next school day
- No equipment may ever come back to school or go home on a school bus
- The parent signs that they are assuming complete financial liability for the equipment should it be lost or damaged
- All county use policies apply to the equipment
We have been very fortunate. No checked out equipment has ever been lost, damaged, or used inappropriately. As long as this continues, we will continue this practice.
Can My Child Participate?
Absolutely. However, participation is voluntary. Students who choose not to work on this project are not required to do so. If you want your child to participate, you should make sure his/her teachers are aware of your desire and that your child involves him/herself when the teachers start the project--typically sometime in November.
posted on: June 11, 2005