Monday, September 23, 2013

Reichhold Rolls Out Red Carpet for Revived Workshop

 Reichhold Center for the Arts Youth Moviemaking Workshop Senior Technical Director Denise Humphrey (behind camera on right) supervises YMW Student Director Leah Trotman (behind camera) as they shoot a scene. 
The Reichhold Center for the Arts is the place to go for excellent shows by national and international performers. This summer it was the place to go for a show closer to home. The center hosted the red carpet premier of the “The Chase,” the newest creation of the center’s own Youth Moviemaking Workshop (YMW).

“The Chase,” is a coming-of-age short film filled with intrigue, mystery and the search for buried treasure. The film’s main character “Christopher,” played by Anthony Brown, returns to the territory to visit his grandmother for the summer and finds himself in conflict with three bullies. Christopher must choose between fulfilling the wish of the ghost of his grandfather and saving the bully that hunts him. “The Chase” stars YMW students Anthony Brown, Tevin Williams, Asmar Bailey, Vernelle Callwood, Khalil D. Williams, Juliet Greaux and Robenson Gassant.

Students enrolled in the YMW learned how to use cameras, setup lighting, work with audio, film editing, stunt motion, various genres of acting, the genres of movies, and about the film industry.  They were under the tutelage of Reichhold Center for the Arts Senior Technical Director Denise Humphrey. She has been overseeing the workshop since 2001. The YMW has not been consistently available due to funding constraints. This year, the UVI Reichhold Center YMW was made possible, due in part, to a $15,000 donation from the Brabson Library and Educational Foundation.

Director of “The Chase,” Leah Trotman, 13, was also one of the film’s co-authors.  Trotman didn’t join the workshop believing she would have been this invested in the project. Her mom signed her up for the summer, but after three weeks she was fully involved. “At first I was not too excited because I didn’t know what was going to happen in the camp,” says Trotman. “I was a little scared if I was going to like it or not, but as I ventured into the camp I started liking it. I don’t regret making the choice.” In addition to directing and writing, she helped to scout shooting locations.

The movie’s scenes were shot in various areas of St. Thomas, including the University of the Virgin Islands, the Reichhold Center, Frenchtown, the Cyril E. King Airport and Fortuna. “I feel like a movie star,” says Tevin Williams, 16, who, with his brother, Khalil Williams, 14, star in the film. Before joining the YMW, they spent a lot of time shooting skateboarding stunts and uploading them to YouTube.

To join the workshop students must complete an application form, submit a creative project – which can be short stories, drawings, or musicals – a short essay on why they wish to be in the workshop and two letters or recommendation from a counselor or a teacher. They must also interview to be a part of the workshop. “I used to do a video show on my phone and I sent that in with the application,” says Callwood.

She enjoyed her summer vacation and learned a lot in the workshop. “It’s hard at first – when you really get into it, it’s really fun,” Callwood says.

 “The class is providing them with an opportunity to hone their skills,” Humphrey says. “We try to provide them with as close to a feel for them to get to what it takes to create a film.”

Reichhold Center Director Nissa Copemann says with grant funding, the center was able to absorb much of the costs and pass the saving on to the students. “The $15,000 grant from the Brabson Foundation has allowed RCA to reduce the cost of tuition to the YMW this year and also provide scholarships,” Copemann says. “The usual fee is $750 but we reduced it to $550, which includes free lunch.”

“We did not want to see talented youth miss an opportunity to participate simply because they couldn’t afford the program fee,” Copemann says. “For summer 2013, 50 percent of YMW participants have been granted full or partial scholarships to the program. Without funding from Brabson, this might not have been possible.”

“The Brabson Foundation is a small family foundation that reflects the family’s passion for bold, innovative ideas that may have a significant and long-term impact, especially in education and the arts,” says UVI Director of Corporate, Foundation and Government Relations Richard Cleaver, who secured the donation. “In addition to its financial benefit, the grant shows the Brabson family’s faith that the Youth Moviemaking Workshop, and the Arts in Education Program generally, can change lives for the better for the young people of the Virgin Islands.”

Humphrey has taught many students who have gone onto work in the movie industry. She hopes that this year’s group is no different. YMW student Micheal Browne, 13, wants to be a comedic actor and wants to own his own movie studio. Michael Neal, 13, wants a career in the animation used to create video game cinematography and Callwood, 12, wants to either be a fashion designer or a movie producer. In her spare time, Callwood uses her dad’s iPhone to create videos.  

 “We have a few success stories,” she says. Richard Simons works at Disney and former Reichhold employee Crystals Myers worked for BET’s College Hill and VIACOM Media Networks. She is currently working in California. Richard Vialet is a cinematographer touring the world shooting movies. “The YMW not only provides students with a creative outlet but also helps them to gain and develop marketable skills that are critical to pursuing careers in digital media production,” Copemann says. “We are proud that many YMW alums have gone onto promising careers.”

Visit UVI’s YouTube Channel to see “The Chase” movie trailer or see this link: “The Chase.