Students in Manatee County are gearing up for a night of inspiration, imagination and awards. From 6pm to 8pm on Friday, April 4, the South Florida Museum will host Film Rush 2014, a free festival open to the public showcasing Manatee students’ productions. Film Rush is going into its eighth year, but this is the first year that it has been affiliated with the Manatee Association for Media in Education (MAME) and the Jim Harbin Student Media Festival, which has hosted separate events in the past. Students have submitted their productions to one of eleven different categories, from documentary to comedy to music video. Each film will range from less than one minute to seven minutes long.
In an effort to inspire creativity and encourage firsthand learning, MAME desires to expose students from kindergarten through high school to the possibilities of film. Marie Masferrer, president of MAME and a media specialist and TV production teacher at R. Dan Nolan Middle School in Bradenton, is passionate about the program and the festival and has incorporated the filmmaking into her classroom curriculum. “Students are more enthusiastic about learning when they are using the creative arts,” she said when asked about students’ reactions to the project. “Those who are making videos as part of their regular classes experience a level of enthusiasm you don’t get with textbooks. It’s a hands-on and creative application of the standards we want students to have.”
The importance of video production for student growth cannot be overestimated. Masferrer sees an enormous difference in the quality of students’ work in school, which she attributes to their exposure to and application of the creative arts. “When a student is not in paper-and-pencil mode, his or her thinking is higher level,” she said. “Give a kindergartner a camera, and you would be amazed.” In testing, her own students have outperformed the state average and Masferrer credits the inclusion of creative learning in their daily activities for their success.
The films to be featured at this year’s Film Rush were selected by members of the Film Club of the State College of Florida, led by Del Jacobs, who judged the submissions based on a rubric developed for the festival. Participating students will be given an evaluation of their films to support and advise for future improvement.
Besides showcasing the chosen films, Film Rush will present an award ceremony, light refreshments and, of course, a red carpet for the filmmakers. Winning students will receive awards in the form of engraved Oscar-type trophies commemorating their efforts.
Masferrer hopes that the future will be bright with more entries, more sponsors and more wins at the state competition, to which the winning entries are submitted. The goal is to make Manatee County known in Florida for student film production, and, since the program has the support of dedicated teachers and the administration, it looks like it is well on its way. The festival, however, is about so much more than golden accolades and state recognition. Participating teachers and MAME are more concerned about encouraging students to engage and apply what they learn to everything. “We’re not doing this for a class, project or grade,” Masferrer asserted. “This goes beyond. How does this impact their lives?”