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Plaza Theatre hosts world premiere highlighting the works of over 100 budding teenage Calgary filmmakers


Throughout the school year, students at Tom Baines Junior High School in Calgary have been studying film and producing short movies.

Wednesday, they got a chance to see them on the big screen.

Benjamin Tran's short film Locked is about a student unable to open the combination to his locker. It's a simple concept but one that struck a chord with his audience of fellow junior high students.

"At first you feel like nervous and like stressed, like you don't want to see your film. You don't want to present it," said Tran "But when it's actually up there (on the screen) and it's finished, you feel like relief, likey ou've gone all out and everyone's watched it."

Benjamin Tran's short film Locked is about a student unable to open the combination to his locker.


Through the school year students learn every aspect of film making, from writing and pre-production, to lighting, camera operation, and sound, through to post-production editing and special effects. 

A big take-away for all of them is just how hard it is to make a well-produced film, even a short one.

"You can see how hard it is. Just to make a minute of a movie takes like a whole day," said Grade 8 student and director Dinuli Desilva.

"I know how it is like to make a two-minute movie," she added. "It must take a lot of hard work to make a two-hour movie."

DeSilva’s movie is an homage to one of her favourite films Uncharted. In it, she recreates several key scenes from the movie, trying to match the lighting, set design and camera work

"It's so nice to see your movie in the big screen. I'm just 13 years old, and now I can tell people that my movie was shown in a big screen."


Some of the student films deal with weightier topics. Kaylee Tang was camera operator and grip in the short film Gone.It's the story of a quiet girl, who has trouble making friends in school.

"And no one really noticed her or like, they kind of just ignored her, even though she's like, always been there. And all the new students have friends already. And so she decided to disappear. And her parents were really worried," said Tang.

She says it’s not about any one person in particular. Tang says her crew simply wanted to make a movie others her age would instantly understand.

"We kind of created it as a group together," she said. "But we struggled at first because we all had really different ideas. And it was it was hard to put them all together in one film.

"We just tried not to make like a super basic story," she adds. "We tried to make it like a story that people could relate to."


Their instructor Robert Dougherty has been teaching this course for over a decade. A film buff since he was a preteen, he's hoping to instill that love of movies to his students.

More importantly, he says the team-building, and presentation skills the students learn are valuable life skills.

"If you can teach them the discipline and the control the planning, the execution and composition of good filmmaking, so that they can use that technology, then you get amazing outcomes," he said.

And he says for some in the class it could potentially spark a career.

"I've got kids who are working as composers in Los Angeles for film, kids who are doing special effects," he said. "Well, they're not kids anymore, but they're doing special effects in film. One of my (former) students is in the new Avatar film, and she's one of the actresses who is featured in that movie."

Doughtery says while it remains to be seen if any of the students at the Plaza Theatre Wednesday will ever hit the big time, seeing their films shown on the big screen gives them a chance to feel like they already have. Top Stories

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