Compass School hosts Student Film Festival


WESTMINSTER — A group of 12 juniors and seniors at the Compass School have spent the past six weeks studying films, writing screenplays, and producing their own short films. This week, they are putting the final touches on their films and creating blooper reels in preparation for the 15th Annual Compass Student Film Festival at 7 p.m. tonight. The public is invited to this culminating event for their film-making class.

This interdisciplinary course is a popular elective at the school, led by humanities teacher Ryan Hockertlotz and science/technology teacher, Eric Rhomberg. Hockertlotz and Rhomberg enjoy team teaching the course because the students are completely invested in their films throughout the process, working well beyond school hours to edit, perfect and complete their projects. Rhomberg says, "This is one of the most complex, creative and organizationally-challenging projects these students have ever taken on."

From writing the script, recruiting actors, arranging shooting locations, and organizing props, to adding sound, editing, and continual reworking, film-making requires students to develop strong skills of decision making, teamwork and management. As 11th grader Ben Allaire observes: "There is a huge amount of problem solving and thinking on your feet. Every day new challenges come up that we need to solve to keep our project moving."

Junior Ajna Siegel adds, "I really like how we have been given the tools to do this film work, and now we have the freedom to independently create something that is meaningful to us."

The course allows for close analysis of films as well as lots of hands-on practice with the camera, sound recording, and with editing software. On the first day of class students dive right into learning camera operation and audio recording. They then make short silent films over the course of a few days. In the meantime, they discuss qualities of a good story, watch film clips for both analysis and inspiration, and learn screenplay formatting. Eventually, students write and "pitch" their original screenplays, and the students as a team choose what films they want to produce in the final weeks of class.

The film festival, held at the school on Route 5 just south of Bellows Falls, is open to the public, with a $2 suggested donation.

The Compass School is an independent school for students in grades 7-12. For more information, go to the school website:



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