Orcas kids have filmmaking workshop during film festival

Nine young Orcas Islanders got an opportunity most people only ever dream about: working with an Emmy-winning producer on their own short film.

“The idea was to bring award-winning, world-class filmmaking education to the islands’ children,” said Yuri Mamchur, co-owner of Orcas Cars, which sponsored the workshop. “I think everyone is going to be very impressed with the quality. Think of it as a mini ‘Goonies’ circa 2018 on Orcas Island.”

From Oct. 4 through Oct. 8 during the Orcas Island Film Festival, the nine students, ages 12 to 14, worked with three-time Emmy Award-winning producer and director Mike Stryker — who owns Casting Life Films in Nashville, Tennessee — to create a short film written, directed, filmed and starring themselves. The workshop was free to interested students.

“The experience was amazing,” said seventh-grader Moose Kinsey. “I learned so much about film acting and how different it is than theater acting. Plus I learned about the process behind the camera and editing!”

Over four days, the kids learned what goes in to creating a cinematic production and created the 5-10-minute short film from scratch.

“It’s been an adventurous experience, with friendship and lots of beautiful creative moments with the kids,” Stryker said.

A rough cut of the movie premiered on the last day of the festival and the final version will air before an encore OIFF film screening of “Puzzle” at 7 p.m on Sunday, Oct. 21 at Sea View Theatre.

“It’s supposed to be an epic, adventure film. It has this massive Hollywood feel to it,” Mamchur said. “The goal was to produce something good and to educate kids. … They had no choice but to learn because [Stryker] just threw them into battle. They were just thrown into a Hollywood-style battlefield.”

Parents of the students involved expressed appreciation for the opportunities provided by the workshop.

“Beyond the fun factor, the Film Fest and the Lit Fest are providing much-needed educational opportunities that not only stretch our kids’ imaginations but help them grow creatively and intellectually. The effect is profound,” said parent Ayn Gailey.

Parent Mike Moore agreed: “Who knows what seeds have been planted? Perhaps a future director, actor, producer, film critic or film studies teacher will have been inspired from this process.”