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Thursday, March 25, 2010

THE ENTREPRENEURIAL GUIDE TO ENTERTAINMENT: Spotlight on Brendan Allard – Guiding the Academy Award Winners of Tomorrow

The Entrepreneurial Guide to Entertainment with Sandy McKee

At a small public elementary school in the heart of Kaimuki, Hawaii, a group of 13 students in grades 4 through 6 gather after school for the Video Production Club headed by the computer teacher, Chris Yap, and Brendan Allard. Mr. Allard is a technician for the Department of Education, State of Hawaii, and volunteers his time at Hawaii public access TV station ‘Olelo. He is ‘Olelo certified as a producer, camera operator, and video editor. He is currently pursuing a degree in IT.

I caught up with Mr. Allard and asked a few questions about his role in guiding these aspiring producers and directors.

“The kids are learning creative ways to portray the ideas they want to share,” he said. At this time, they are learning basic skills, such as operating the camera, editing the film, dubbing sound, etc. “Then,” Mr. Allard said, “They will produce a short PSA to be aired on [Hawaii’s public access TV station] ‘Olelo. The subject of the PSA will be determined by the kids.”

The first project the club produced was a short press conference with one of the students playing the role of President Obama. The format was simple questions and answers. The second project involved taking a scene from a movie and dubbing the students’ voices over the actors. “They could make the characters say whatever they wanted,” said Mr. Allard.

The current project is more ambitious: two music videos with original choreography. The songs are “I’m Yours” (Jason Mraz) and “Party in the USA” (Miley Cyrus). “They’re doing ‘I’m Yours’ with a Star Wars theme,” said Mr. Allard. Huh? I hope their parents let them put that on YouTube!

The Video Production Club and its counterpart for grades K-3, the Shutterbug Club, represent a growing emphasis in elementary schools on creative new media. The skills the students learn empower them to take on increasingly complex issues, problems, and ideas as they explore new ways to communicate to a wider audience. Gone are the days when we would simply write an essay, get a grade, and then trash the paper. Now, we can write up a concept, storyboard it, plan the project, allocate assets to its implementation, produce it in visual format, edit it for clarity and artistic elements, and then publish it online for the world to view. Learning takes place, as does the development of marketable skills.

The equipment the students are using includes a Cybershot camera and Windows Movie Maker software. According to Mr. Allard, “The children are picking up the techniques quickly and they seem to like it. The challenge, however, is getting them to settle down and listen to instructions.” Well, kids will be kids, right?

For more information, please visit Sandy's TNNW Bio.


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