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Education

Cedar Rapids elementary students create, star in short film

About 40 Jackson Elementary students worked on the 'Mystery on the Jackson Jet'

Attendees fill a theater for the first of two screenings for the premier of the Jackson Elementary film clubs “Mystery on the Jackson Jet” at Marcus Theatres in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Around forty students wrote, directed, acted and filmed the 20 minute movie. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Attendees fill a theater for the first of two screenings for the premier of the Jackson Elementary film clubs “Mystery on the Jackson Jet” at Marcus Theatres in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, June 1, 2019. Around forty students wrote, directed, acted and filmed the 20 minute movie. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Complete with a star-studded red carpet event, a short film premiered in Cedar Rapids theaters Saturday — one written, acted and filmed by elementary students.

The whodunit tale was the second film created by Jackson Elementary School’s film club, which is led by teacher Ryan Patterson and seventh-grade student Jonah McMahan.

“There are so many different parts to it,” said 13-year-old Jonah, who directed the film. “Actors get a lot of the credit, but they can only act after writers write that scene, and after set and props create the background. It’s really a team effort.”

About 40 elementary students worked on the “Mystery on the Jackson Jet” movie after school, many doing reshoots — of interrogation scenes, filmed in the principal’s office — until last week.

“I like how you get to do all (the scenes) in the plane,” actress Deidre Green, 10, said. “It’s so cool to think about how the green screen is going to turn into the sky.”

“I like how it all comes together in the end,” added Addison Phillips, 10, another actress in the film.

The film club was Jonah’s brainchild, Patterson said. He was Jonah’s teacher when he went to Jackson — Jonah now attends Taft Middle School.

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“I have no film background at all,” third-grade teacher Patterson said. “We found our way, and we made it our own.”

That’s the best part of being a director, said Jonah, who enjoys the coding involved with editing the footage and envisioning the final product.

“The writers do a great job writing the script, but it’s a director who says how these lines are going to be said, and how this camera is going to be shot,” the 13-year-old said. “That’s what gives the heart and soul to a movie.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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