In grade school, I was fortunate enough to be part of a special educational enrichment program that took certain kids from each school in the county and put us together twice a week for highly creative and intensive learning sessions that lasted most of the day. LAUNCH was led by Karen Brown and Linda J. Emerick, and was a profoundly impactive event in my life, as I'm sure it was in the lives of the other students involved.
Each year, third grade through fifth, we tackled segments lasting several weeks at a time (or perhaps longer), segments which stood alone, or built off of another related segment in a previous year. I can recall a portion on the space program, one on archaelogy, biology (we dissected frogs--I failed that one miserably) and of course, the one on the magic of movie-making. The film segment, which was previewed a bit in fourth grade, but which we fully took on in the fifth grade, was sort of the culmination of all the creative and logical thinking we'd been taught in our three years in the program, and truly was very challenging at the time.
We learned everything there was to making movies--I specifically remember learning about blue-screening, and being disappointed for years afterward when it was badly done in a movie. One of my former classmates recalls that Linda had a massive book that laid out how all of the effects were created for Star Wars--and this was just a few years after its release. We learned about the different genres of film, and how scripts were developed, storyboards created, etc. All of this was in the age of only the occasional "special" documentary on one of the three TV channels... And then each class made a film of its own.
This was my class' film: "The Raiders of the Misplaced Mummy." After (what seemed like) weeks of preparation, we likely only had one class day for the actual shoot--we did *everything*: from setting up the shots to designing and creating the sets to actually operating the camera and calling "cut!" Not so amazing now, but in 1982, it was pretty much unheard-of for a bunch of suburban 11 year-olds... Just to show how involved we were, I've scanned and put our hand-drawn storyboards / shot plot into a single .pdf, which can be seen at docs.google.com/file/d/0B4DZitIGiSmIWmZMM3pHczcxZ0E/edit?usp=sharing .
Afterwards, the teachers had all the films edited together for us. There was a film festival of sorts, and we got to see our own class' film along with those of all the other classes. It was pretty amazing. What was even more fantastic however, was that the teachers later entered all of our films into a competition--and "Raiders" won. I asked Linda to refresh me on that, and here's what she replied:
"Yes, it was a NATIONAL award--best in the country! Here are the details:
1984 National Student Media Festival
1st Place, Grades 4-6
J. Blake, H. Burdette, M. Goodwin, K. House, L. Longno, R. Moon, M. Smith, K. Montgomery, R. Spain
AECT (Association for Educational Communications and Technology) and ICIA (International Communications Industries Association)
As you see, it was a big deal. :-)
A few years later, in late middle school or early high school, or perhaps sometime around the awarding of our 1st Place, there was a repeat of the little film festival and everyone got to see our movies again. But I was living in another state by then, and missed it. I returned to the same city later, but no one had any contact information for our former teachers anymore, and this was still way pre-Internet. So now it's 2013, and thanks to social media, I'm not only reconnected with some of the LAUNCH kids that I'd forgotten or lost touch with, I'm also connected to Linda J. Emerick again. And not long ago, Linda sent me the film canister and the audio-cassette soundtrack to this film.
Ladies and Gentlemen, after 30+ years in a "tomb" of its own, I give you "The Raiders of the Misplaced Mummy."
--With sincerest thanks to Linda J. Emerick, Wes Parham, and to Bob Castro and the amazingly nice VTA team in Atlanta. If you ever need some crazy-old super 8 film digitized, give it to these guys...