PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. – Each year the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville hosts award winning filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard as guests to their various special events.
Three times a year however, the filmmakers who stroll down the red carpet are fourth grade students from Westchester County as part of the Minds in Motion animator-in-residence program.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids to showcase their work,” said Vicki Callender of Mount Vernon, whose daughter Jacintha participated in the program. “It also lets other people view their work which makes them feel good about themselves.”
Each year over 1,000 fourth grade students from across Westchester participate in the program through their elementary school. The students are taken by bus from their school to the Burns Center’s media lab once a week for 12 weeks with a goal of creating a one-minute stop-motion animated film. The film is created by patching together 1,000 still-shot photographs that results in an original story. At the end of the program, a red carpet premier event is held at the theater for family and friends. This week concluded the fall program for seven elementary schools from New Rochelle, Yonkers, Mt. Kisco, Mt. Vernon, Tarrytown, and Ossining.
“These kids work so hard on these and no one really knows how difficult it is to create just a one minute movie like this unless you actually do it,” said Joseph Summerhays, Curriculum Designer and teacher in the Minds in Motion program.
Only schools in underprivileged areas that have more than 50 percent of their students eligible for free or reduced lunch are chosen for the program. The schools participate free of cost because of the largesse of nine local sponsors.
Emily Keating, director of education at the center, said the program is a wonderful opportunity for these students to learn about film making.
“It’s really shows what education can be about,” Keating said. “That it can be fun and collaborative without any right or wrong or filling in multiple choice answers.”