Claymation class teaches more than technical skills | News

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Claymation class teaches more than technical skills
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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Three groups of young girls buzzed around hand-painted, cardboard cutouts inside One Longfellow Square's theater, snapping pictures and barking out directions, all in an effort to make their own movie. 

Carefully, the kids moved colorful clay figures, posing them, pausing, before moving them ever so slightly again.

"You have to move everything, and then you have to listen to the other person who is helping you, so it is kind of difficult," explained fourth grader Maream Doeal.  "We had to have him look down so that he could look at his watch."

Many of the girls, third, fourth and fifth graders at the Reiche School enrolled in Learning Works' after school program, had never played around with a digital camera before, let alone used one to make a stop-motion feature.

"This is the first time that they've done it, so they need to be able to make mistakes," stated teacher Megan Pollino.  "They need to be able to go back and they need to be able to redo, so they can learn in their best way how this is going to work."

"First we make the scenes, the backgrounds and the people and stuff," said director Ingrid Rosales, talking me through the process.  She has shot silly videos with her friends before, but never made a movie.

"The animator and I have to move all this stuff, while the camera person is waiting for us."

The girls created their characters, giving them names and characteristics, before dreaming up the scenarios in which they would act out.

"It is about this haunted mansion, and these two characters named Victor and Jocelyn," the budding director, Ingrid, informed me.  "And then this ghost named Nick, he came and followed them."

Shot by shot, and step by step, their ideas develop into a crude animated short.  The story will need some editing to help smooth it out, but the transformation from concept to creation happens in a flash.

While the end product is important, Pollino, an instructor at Oak Street Studios, says the process is where the magic happens.

"I really want them ultimately to be able to work as a group, to problem solve as a group, to make a product that is pretty fantastic which they are shaping up to be," she explains.  "So it is a lot more about the process of working as a group and making a product as a group than it is about the finished product itself."

The class, which is the first collaboration between One Longfellow, Learning Works and Oak Street Studios, will come to an end with the school year, but not before these simple stories are show on the theater's silver screen.

"I am learning a lot," Doeal admits, as she moves another character into frame.

"I just want to be a movie star."

With each picture these girls take, they make another small step towards that dream.

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