Santa Maria Sun / Art
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 10
The Righetti High School Film Festival will feature student-produced films
BY JOE PAYNE
Room 205 at Ernest Righetti High School was buzzing with the noise typical of the advanced film class students. There was talking, though not much, because most of the students were sitting at computers with headphones on, pointing and clicking. Robert Garcia, the film and journalism teacher at Righetti, walked among the students, making sure those talking were on task. The rest of the class, however, he left alone so they could work on their various projects that were in different stages of postproduction.
The advanced film class students were preparing their films for submission to the annual Righetti High School Film Festival, which serves as a showcase of the year’s efforts as well as a fundraiser for graduating film students. Though Garcia is at the helm of the film program and oversees the festival, he takes a hands-off approach to the event.
“This is their final, you might say,” he said. “This is what the whole year of working is going towards.”
The sophomores, juniors, and seniors submit their work with the hopes of winning an award. Distinctions are given for many filmmaking aspects, including best editing, cinematography, and screenwriting, as well as best of show, teacher’s choice, audience’s choice, and honorable mentions. The students are also responsible for almost every aspect of the event.
“It’s student run—the films are student produced, they do the decorations, they go out and get donations—they do it all,” Garcia said. “Every year I get offers from parents to help, and I always turn them down because it’s not theirs; it’s the students’.”
Giving more responsibility to his students has never been a problem for Garcia. In fact, it’s the model he uses to prepare them for the film industry, and he has students just about everywhere in the business.
“Let’s see … we have nine Emmys that have been earned by four or five students of mine. I have two students who have shared in two Academy Awards,” he said. “I have students who are working in various aspects of film.”
Whether his students work for HGTV, have their own media companies, or continue on to higher education, the skills they developed while in his class have served them along the way, Garcia explained.
“I try to keep it real, real life,” he said. “I stress teamwork. I tell them that they can have all the talent in the world, but if they don’t have teamwork skills then no one will want to work with them.”
Garcia’s students usually form groups for their projects. Each student in the group directs his or her own project, with the rest acting as cast and crew. This way, every budding filmmaker gets the chance to serve in each important position, from lighting to directing.
“Honestly, I’m always looking forward to this class,” senior Jasen Tapia said. “Even if I don’t get anything done, I know it’s a sanctuary where I can hang out and be creative.”
The advanced film students get to check out cameras and take them off campus to shoot on location in the area. Garcia makes sure they follow strict preproduction rules before they shoot, but once shot, the time-consuming task of postproduction begins. Editing, sound mixing, and special effects are all done with the powerhouse computers Garcia keeps loaded with the industry-standard software, including Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects.
“That’s the other thing that keeps us going: We are an ROP program, that’s Regional Occupational Program, which is funded by the state,” Garcia explained. “It’s like a ‘school-to-employment’ education program. If they had never come to us, we would still be working with three computers.”
The film program at Righetti gets ROP funding because it works, Garcia explained. Many of his students who don’t continue on to higher education go straight into the workforce, sometimes with their ROP certificate of completion as their only work credential.
“Film-making is about articulation and problem solving,” he said, “Problem solving is what an employer wants from an employee, and some students don’t understand that is what they are doing here.”
Garcia also teaches his students how to handle each task as it comes. Currently, his advanced film students are working toward the looming deadline for entering their short films in the festival. The festival is open to the community, Garcia said, so they can enjoy the fruits of the students’ labor.
“I think that the idea of seeing their work up on the screen and seeing the people in the audience clap that aren’t just their friends, that’s a big deal for them,” he said. “The kids in my class come dressed up in ties, the girls wear their long dresses, and when they come in and they see the audience, they stand up a little straighter. They don’t see that, but I see that.”
Arts Editor Joe Payne was a four-year student of Garcia’s. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.