Is there anything better than kids being creative? They just go for it, you know? In Lane County we are so lucky to have a really cool outlet for kids who are into making videos (& they all are at some point, we're pretty sure. All of the features & filters are hard to resist!), The Eugene Children's Film Festival. Today we get to talk to Clint Larson, founder of the festival about creativity, alternatives to writing papers & high hopes for the future.
What made you decide to bring a Children's Film Festival to Eugene?
Starting the Academic Achievement Center back in 2014 allowed my partners and I to really look at what could be done to enhance student achievement outside of school. We decided that offering great educational events totally free for students to get involved in would be a fun and motivational way to do that. After our first film making / stop motion camp that summer, a parent walking out the doors with their child at pick up said, "you guys should do something to show all the kids films"...and that's all it took. We started a nonprofit and now the ECFF is our flagship event.
Were you a filmmaker when you were a kid?
I didn't have the access or the exposure to film making until too late in my life to have any great kid-made films experiences to share. But I have had some great student-made films created by my students the last 15 years. That is another reason that the film festival is so close to my heart. I have been teaching middle school students and have had them to making movies instead or writing papers since my first year teaching, and the outcome is so enjoyable year after year.
Tell us about some of your favorite entries from past years.
After four years of doing this we are closing in on nearly 200 films submitted. There have been so many great shorts that its hard to choose, but I am partial to the students that submit films every year! Seeing how they develop technically, and as storytellers is so rewarding! It lets me know that we are doing something right! Giving students a voice and platform that they wouldn't have with out the Eugene Children's Film Festival.
What makes a great Children's Film?
Story! it's all about having a clear beginning, middle, and end in the short amount of time students have to share their work.
How do you choose judges for the competition?
We look for a background in the arts, acting, music, performing, and especially film for our judging panel each year. We have been lucky to have some amazing judges for the festival in each of the four years of the event. Eugene has some very talented community members that volunteer their time to watch and comment on each film.
Tell a story that stands out to you from your experiences with the kids & their films.
In our first year a 12 year old student used a program called SCRATCH to create his entire short film. SCRATCH is an educational tool used to teach the basics of computer coding. We use the website after school and in a few of our camps at the Academic Achievement Center. I was just amazing to see how he was able to put together an actual story and make so many people laugh and smile. That was a lot of hard work and super creative!
What are your hopes & dreams for the Eugene Children's Film Festival?
To tell you the truth I want it to be a weekend long event, not just one day! I would love for each day to feature work from different age levels and different genres. I would also love to add more scholarship opportunities and motivational rewards for these talented and creative students. The forest industry is leading the way in helping support one hopefully growing scholarships and we are excited that next year we will be able to offer another category scholarship for agriculture. And most of all I want the event to have staying power so when one of these young filmmakers wins an Academy Award some day, they just might look back at the Eugene Children's Film Festival as the place where they "kicked down the door" as Guillermo Del Toro so appropriately said at the Oscars this year!
Is the Film Festival appropriate for younger kids?
Yes, the event is appropriate for younger kids. We have been getting more and more films from high school students looking to share their stories with darker and sometimes scary themes, but we have made some nice changes to the event to allow for younger audiences to get the most out of the event without shunning our older audience members who need a place to share their work as well. It is a family event and we will always keep it that way.
We are so psyched for the Film Festival! How often do kids to get to see other kids present something they created in such a big way? Super inspiring & so neat to get to support art!
Eugene Children's Film Festival
Saturday May 19
doors open at 3
program starts at 3:15
Wildish Community Theater
630 Main St, Springfield
Win two tickets to the 2018 Eugene Children's Film Festival!
Comment here with your favorite way to see your kids be creative!
We will draw a winner Friday May 18 at 9pm.