Lights, camera, action, change the world.
A group of Dimmitt Middle Schoolers have wrapped up production on a film they hope will inspire students to stop bullying and speak up.
The students are part of a new program called “Agents of Change,” in which participants are engaged in projects that address needs they see in their school and neighborhoods. The program is made possible by funding from Best Starts For Kids Grant, Hasbro and Renton Rotary.
A group of 30 students meet after school twice a week to address the issues facing their communities and concoct projects that inspire sustainable change.
Rashad Medley, a Community in Schools Renton student liaison, is leading the group this semester. With this background in filmmaking and scriptwriting, Medley said he threw out the idea of creating a movie to the group and was surprised with what came boomeranging back.
Medley said he suggested producing a film one Monday. The next day, seventh-grader Stephanie Soronio came back with an 11-page script of a movie that focused on the message around the impacts of bullying and how students can handle difficult situations.
“If you look around in our school, you’ll see traces of bullying,” said Soronio. “It’s bad because it hurts us, our friends and our family.”
The issue was an important one for her and the movie was a way for her to inspire change, though she admitted she was worried.
“I was scared (when I finished the script) because I wasn’t sure if it would make an impact,” she said. “But maybe it will remind people that bullying is still a problem in our schools.”
Soronio was also the lead character in the movie.
“At first she wasn’t playing the lead role,” said Medley. “Then we sat down and talked about it. I said, ‘You wrote it. It came from you. You have to do it.’ Once she got into it… it was amazing. I was super proud of this kid.”
The group took the art of making the movie seriously.
Well, sort of, according to eight-grader Jocelyn Perez, the director of the movie.
“If you were here, you’ll probably see a lot of kids goofing around and you’ll see Mr. Rashad saying, ‘Get down kids!’” she said.
It was the first time Perez directed a film and the role seemed to fit like a glove for her, thanks to her background in theater and musicals. Perez was able to encourage the actors to move from memorizing lines to embodying their characters fully. The role did prove to be challenging because “people like to goof off,” she admitted.
To see Perez slip into the role was a proud moment for Medley.
“The day that I saw Jocelyn take over the director role, when I first saw her sit down with other kids and talk about their emotions and her ideas… it made me so happy,” said Medley.
A Renton High School senior and Dimmitt graduate Brandon Heu volunteered his time to work behind the camera and edit the project.
“Working with the students was a great,” he said. “The whole process of planning, shooting and editing the film was pretty cool.”
After working on the project for four months, Medley said he hopes the students were impacted and changed.
“I taught them art is like holding up a mirror to society,” he said. “You use other art to create yours. They created a pure reflection of what they see in the hallways. That made me super happy.”
The movie will premier 7 p.m., May 3 at Dimmitt Middle School, and is open to the public.
They will also be a screening of the movie at Third Place Books where a portion of the event’s proceeds will be donated to Dimmitt Middle School. More information on this screening will be released soon.
To see the trailer for the movie, visit https://youtu.be/ld4vsnQsjno.