Students learn what it takes to shoot scenes for films

December 18, 2013 

Ishared an evening with aspiring student filmmakers at the Gig Harbor branch of Tacoma Community College, and they were fine-tuning their creative thinking, script-writing, directing, performing and filming.

Last week, they presented their art with a student film showcase at the Uptown Galaxy Theaters.

“Christie Fierro and I are team teaching the class,” said Mike Blair, a teacher for both the Peninsula School District and TCC-Gig Harbor.

“The majority are Running Start students from Gig Harbor or Peninsula High, one from Henderson Bay High, and with the exception of two students, all are peninsula residents and products of the Peninsula School District who meet twice weekly at (TCC-Gig Harbor).”

Nels Westermark is preparing a show on YouTube to review video games, TV programs, and movies. He decided to take the class because he enjoys filming, editing and acting.

Marcus Finkel has been behind a camera since he’s been in high school, but he never took it seriously.

“I enrolled in the film production class at TCC-Gig Harbor, where instructors are very supportive and knowledgeable; a perfect mixture to spark my creativity,” Finkel said. “I’d like to make filmmaking a career. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll always have a fun hobby to share with friends and family.”

Fierro and Blair took students through the basics of film production in one quarter. They collaborated with the school district and the Gig Harbor Film Festival, and they set up the film showcase at Galaxy to raise funds for student veterans in honor of TCC’s former Veterans’ Affairs coordinator, the late Bill Harrington.

“I was fascinated with making films and took this class,” Zoe McLane said. “I’m preparing to move to Los Angeles to further both my acting and filmmaking careers and will submit some films made for this class to national film festivals, including the National Film Festival for Talented Youth in Seattle.”

Jordan Richwine, long interested in filmmaking but without the tools to play, said: “I’ve learned so much about what it takes to be part of filmmaking. To be either a director or cinematographer is what I would love.”

Lucretia Gary joined the class because of a passion for the art.

“I love the way film allows a glimpse into another world, someone else’s life,” Gary said. “I plan to take everything I’ve learned this quarter to further my dream to be a director. My goal is to take elements of life, magnify them to capture the beauty in every moment.”

Nick Zornes said he never would have predicted how much of a hassle scheduling would become when he was working on the script for “How to Get the Girl.”

“Even after we got the right take, we had to check if dialogue was audible,” Zornes said. “The buzz of cars or planes would force us to re-shoot, do a voice over, or scrap the footage entirely.”

TCC student Caroline Goodwin also has an interest in the performing arts.

“In this class, I became familiar with iMovie and Final Cut Pro programs on Mac for editing student films,” Goodwin said. “The class made me want to move forward with film.”

Before the course, Lauren Call didn’t know how much hard work goes into creating movies.

“I appreciate films much more,” Call said. “This was a great learning experience for me.”

Braden Pepich enjoyed creating multiple films in his group.

“It requires lots of work but pays off when you get the shot you’re looking for,” Pepich said.

Running Start student Tristan Dickinson said she now appreciates every person listed in the credits of a film.

“Experiences in front and behind the camera are something I’ll be proud of forever,” Dickinson said.

“The class is designed to challenge us to explore the world of movie making by learning for ourselves how to edit movies and software,” Mackenzie Wojtanowicz said. “The professors guided us, then let us run away with our ideas and create movies out of them.

“ ‘Grand Theft Farhood’ was filmed one evening before dusk,” Wojtanowicz said. “We had to re-film the entire movie the next day and learned how much work goes into shooting according the weather, time of day and especially where the camera will be and what types of shots we need to tell the story.”

The state Department of Veterans Affairs, Brix 25, the Gig Harbor Film Festival, Abigail’s Concierge, Today’s Campus, Tides Tavern and DPI Print sponsored the Galaxy event. Harbor Greens, Java and Clay, Wild Birds Unlimited, Spiro’s, Purdy Cenex, Kohls and Galaxy Theater permitted students to film on their premises.

“It is community support that makes this such a great place to live and work,” Baird said. “The value these businesses and sponsors place on education is immeasurable. Galaxy Theater offered the theater for $400, even though they have to pay the movie studio for not showing a film in that time slot.”

The sponsored covered the cost of the event, Baird said, and proceeds went to the Bill Harrington Fund.

For more information, call Fierro at 253-318-3061.

Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@

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