Get the Creative Scoop from Mid-Schoolers

Alicia Lueras Maldonado let me know about this great opportunity for up-n-coming youth in the arts and for those of us who should be paying attention to --and helping to celebrate--the voices and stories and concerns of youth.
This Sunday presents the fruits of a three-week crash course in screenwriting, filmmaking, set design, acting and photography that has been offered to middle school students from Truman and Jimmy Carter Middle Schools.

The Multi-Media Show happens June 27th from 2-4 pm at Sunday, June 27, 2010
at the YDI Wool Warehouse Theater (518 Roma NW Albuquerque, NM)....

This is the kind of event you attend not only to be supportive---but to be inspired!!! There's nothing like the passion and dedication of youth embracing their first opportunities to really participate in the arts...

Alicia who is the President & CEO of Atlixco Productions LLC writes: "Teaching photography at Truman Middle School was a wonderful experience. We worked on learning the basics of photography and how to tell a story through images. I had the students write their own "I Am From" poems and take pictures to tell the story of who they are and where they are from. Their potential is endless and in just a few short weeks they produced some beautiful images [including the banner image and photos below] and artwork."


From the Press Release:

Steven Michael Quezada, co-star of AMC’s Emmy award winning series Breaking Bad, is the project director. For Quezada, an acting veteran and famous stand-up comic, this is an opportunity to take everything he has learned in his career to benefit the young people of Albuquerque’s West Side.

“This is a chance to tell our youth that success is not something you have to move away to get,” Quezada says. “Kids think they have to move away from New Mexico to live their dreams of being in the entertainment industry. They don’t -- we’re bringing it right to them, to the Westgate neighborhood, and to all the neighborhoods here in the Southwest quadrant of the city.”

Kids at each school all passed an on-camera audition to get in to the program, which is free of any cost to all of them, and is funded by the New Mexico Public Education Department. The Storyteller’s Summer Studio offers children ages 11-14 a safe & fun environment in which they learn not only how to express themselves artistically, but trades and skills that will increase their employability in New Mexico’s rapidly expanding film industry.

"I've always been a supporter of the arts in school, but now I'm absolutely sold," said Tony DellaFlora, one of screenwriting instructors. "To watch kids -- some that the teachers have identified as problems -- blossom into writers, actors, artists and photographers right in front of us is nothing short of amazing. If standardized testing could measure the kids' enthusiasm, their scores would be off the charts."

Quezada said the instructors are one reason for the transformation.

“The artists we’ve gotten to teach these classes are some of the best in their mediums -- not only in New Mexico but the entire Southwest,” Quezada says.

Gene Grant and DellaFlora are teaching screenwriting and helped the students craft short scripts for the program.

Grant writes for the Alibi and Albuquerque the Magazine, hosts a show on KNME called “New Mexico In Focus,” and is a contributor for Variety Magazine, which are but a few of his writing gigs. He has also been a regular contributor for both the Albuquerque Journal and the Tribune. DellaFlora, a former journalist, is one of the pioneers of filmmaking in New Mexico. He co-founded the “Duke City Shootout” filmmaking festival in 2000, where he oversaw script selection and was co-executive producer for 65 short films.

Liz Marshall and Ann Savino oversee the filmmaking component of the program. Marshall has been a film professional for over 15 years with IATSE Local 480. In between producing films, she teaches in Marina, California and has her BFA in theater and her MFA in teaching. Savino most recently produced FREEDOM, a beautiful narrative film about a soldier that returns home after wartime. Her work has appeared on PBS and MTV News. She has been working as a field producer and writer/director for many different types of film & television for 15 years.

Actors Lora Cunningham and Brian Lucero head up the acting program. Cunningham has been in many of the films that have come to New Mexico, co-starring opposite the likes of Denzel Washington and Mila Kunis in The Book of Eli. She teaches acting courses at Albuquerque Studios when she isn’t acting in other productions like Breaking Bad, Nip/Tuck, The United States of Tara, and In Plain Sight. Brian Lucero was one of the last actors to have a scene opposite film legend Dennis Hopper, who passed away recently. He has also had roles opposite Richard Gere and Jessica Alba. Both have grown up in the areas they now teach in and have a giant passion for bringing their experience and craft to not only their hometown, but their own neighborhoods.

Jessica Quinn and Alicia Lueras Maldonado are exposing students to storytelling through the medium of photography. Jessica owns Visiones Photography and Alicia is the President/CEO of Atlixco Productions LLC. Both have had roles as movie set photographers and look forward to showing the world as seen through their student’s eyes.

In mural and set design are acclaimed international muralist Mike “360” Ipiotis, whose most visible piece of art is the giant mural seen off I-25 and Avenida Cesar Chavez. He has been doing community art projects for almost 20 years, working in lower-income neighborhoods in Oakland, New York City, Virginia, and many other cities. Dionisio Tafoya is the program’s other mural/set design instructor. Dionisio owns Dionysus Creative LLC and has designed the set for the Tyra Banks Show and many displays in Disneyland’s Toon Town among many other gigantic TV sets, such as the logo on the helipad of the high rated reality TV show Survivor.

All art mediums will have a presentation on Sunday June 27th showing what these top-notch talents have done with the West Side’s aspiring entertainers. All of them want to show that success isn’t an abstract concept, it’s reachable, real, and relevant to them. The incredible teaching staff, along with YDI, hope to continue doing projects like this in the neighborhoods where the young people need it the most.

The project has been funded by the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Views: 42

Comment by cc on June 26, 2010 at 9:57am
A great age to learn about the power of self-expression - wish all mid schoolers had access to this type of total support to stretch their muses!
Comment by Alicia Lueras Maldonado on June 26, 2010 at 10:04am
thank you for posting lisa! the experience teaching at Truman Middle School was inspiring and such an eye opener for me. Art in schools is absolutely necessary and these students proved that if given the opportunity and exposure to art they will push themselves to grow in new and meaningful ways. I feel like we just touched the tip of the iceberg. Their potential is endless and in just a few short weeks they produced some beautiful images, poems, a mural at the school, wrote a screenplay, shot the screenplay and rehearsed the live theater piece. all i can say is, "wow!"
Comment by cc on June 26, 2010 at 10:15am
Tony DellaFlora's comment, "If standardized testing could measure the kids' enthusiasm, their scores would be off the charts." rings so true!!! The thing is, as John Goodlad educ philosopher wisely put it in his book A Place Called School, tests can't measure qualitative learning. All the good attitudes and curiosities that pre-NCLB good teaching used to help foster are so much harder to come by during this Bush-induced testing regime.

Thank goodness for artists who spearhead and connive to get programs like this for our wonderfully creative-at-heart youth.
Comment by lisa gill on June 26, 2010 at 12:24pm
Thanks CC and Alicia... I posted earlier than I meant to :) so just got the beautiful student photos added...


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