Young filmmakers to premier films at festival showcase

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SARASOTA - The Sarasota Film Festival continues this week with more than a dozen films every day, leading up to the grand finale and the big parties this weekend. But the festival is not just for big name filmmakers; students on the Suncoast are also involved.

Students from Manatee County's Rowlett Elementary School will join others from across the state at the "Hollywood Nights Student Cinema Showcase" at the Hollywood 20 on Sunday.

The young filmmakers will premiere their films and compete for awards and scholarships.

Starlo Galletta's 4th and 5th grade drama classes at Rowlett were chosen by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender Equality to do a project for the Sarasota Film Festival. "We made four films total. There were four groups, and they each were each on a different subject," says Galleta.

"One did a class clown, one of us did a bully, one did an artist, one of us did a scholar," says 5th grader Gregory Decamillis.

Once they had their title, each group went to work making a 10 minute movie about their subject. "It took a lot of work. First the 5th graders wrote the scripts and we got to choose the parts that we wanted to say, and some of us came over on the weekend to film. It was a hard process," says 4th grader Morgan Glowacki.

But the films are finally finished, and they'll make their public debut at the film festival’s Youth Fest on April 14th. “We are having a red carpet event and everyone is going to be dressed up, and we're going to be at the Hollywood 20 and we are going to walk down the red carpet," says Glowacki.

Then they have special VIP passes where they get to sit and watch their films be done and speak about their films to the crowd there.

And the students say making these films taught them a lot. "You have to really work together, otherwise it won't make a very good film. If you work together you can all make a very strong film," says 4th grader Jerson Lopez.

"You have to be focused or you are going to have to keep on reshooting and reshooting, and it gets annoying," says Glowacki.

Their teacher says yes, these lessons apply to filmmaking, but they are also life lessons. "I hope they are able to take this experience and realize they do have the power to change the world and that they can do that through their voice and their acting and their talents."

The students didn't have a lot of high-tech equipment to work with. Their only camera was a cell phone, and their sound booth for recording their scripts was a closet.

They made all their own sets; a great lesson in using your imagination to overcome obstacles.

We wish them luck on Sunday.