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Lake County teens share their film skills with ‘​Fearless?’

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News from Maps Media Institute

PABLO — On Thursday, May 31, at 5:30 p.m., the MAPS-Lake County Film Class welcomed the public to the inaugural screening of the their narrative short film, “Fearless?,” hosted at Salish Kootenai College. A group of ten high school students created this film in just ten weeks. The free-of-charge film class, now in its second year, is an outreach program of the MAPS Media Institute. 

Founded in 2004 by retired Hollywood producer Peter Rosten, MAPS is a free-of-charge after-school media arts program located in Hamilton, Montana, and is available to all students, grades 8–12. MAPS is committed to providing a rigorous, hands-on media arts program designed to instill a lifelong passion for learning and to equip students with the skills and confidence for academic, social and professional success. MAPS curriculum bridges filmmaking, graphic design, music production, computer science, entrepreneurship and community service. Through hands-on instruction from professional artists, students learn technical media skills, participate in real world work experiences and are taught how to apply these skills for future success. Student-produced MAPS films have won a number of regional awards. In November 2017 MAPS was honored as one of the “Top 10” after-school programs in the U.S. by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.  

“After 14 years of successful programming in Ravalli County, MAPS is ready to expand its geographic reach and serve more Montana students,” says MAPS Executive Director, Clare Ann Harff. In 2017, in partnership with Salish Kootenai College, MAPS launched its first pilot program outside of the Bitterroot Valley with an eight week film class. In 2018, the class was extended to ten weeks. Students from four Lake County school districts, as well as the home school community, attend class every Wednesday and Thursday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. “The partnerships with Salish Kootenai College and Lake County schools have been critical to the success of this program. We are honored to announce that funding from the National Endowment for the Arts ensures that this program will continue in 2018-19”, says Harff. For the 2018 MAPS - Lake County film class, award-winning Missoula filmmaker Damon Ristau and MAPS AmeriCorps VISTA instructor Sarah Jones worked with ten aspiring filmmakers ages 13 to 18 on “Fearless?.” Students wrote the screenplay, cast actors, acquired camera, audio and editing skills and worked together as a full film crew. “Fearless?,” a ten-minute comedy, follows the pranking plans of two imaginative teens intent on figuring out “how to scare a guy in five ways.” (Hint: There is a high school Halloween dance, complete with a disco ball.) The response of the students in the class has been enthusiastic. 

“MAPS is great,” according to Dean Wright, an eighth-grader from Polson Middle School. “It makes me feel comfortable and I’m learning new things about my future and where I want to go.” 

“As a returning student, I’m glad to have people I know here,” said Tristan Clifford, a ninth-grader at Polson Middle School, who participated in the 2017 MAPS - Lake County film class. 

“I came here to enhance my skills in editing and acting, but camera work is also fun!” 

Tyler Potts, a senior at Arlee High School adds, “MAPS is a great program that allows students to gain experience that otherwise you could not have.” 

“The world needs more storytellers,” said instructor Damon Ristau. “MAPS is fertile ground for the next generation of artists. It’s been fun to watch the students learn the art of digital filmmaking, while developing team-building and communication skills with their peers. Teaching this class has been an absolute blast."

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