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Lakes Area Student Film Festival -- Detroit Lakes students prepare to show their films, compete for cash

Cloning, Day of Caring, volleyball, cancer and friendships. A wide variety of topics will be seen at the first Lakes Area Student Produced Film Festival on May 15.

Student filmmakers from the Detroit Lakes High School are preparing for their first film festival in hopes of winning cash prizes.

It started with Laker Live, a video editing and advanced public speaking class for students, where a program is aired each Friday at the school and on ACS channel 14.

Teachers Jennifer Burnside and Kent Mollberg decided to take it one step further.

"Film festivals seem to be a happening thing," Mollberg said.

So with support from the DLHS Key Club, Kiwanis and Arvig, students have the opportunity to win $100, $75, $50 and $25 prizes.

Interested students were invited to create 3-6 minute films on any suitable topic.

Jaynae Johnson decided to do two films for submission. One is on the girls' gymnastics team going through sections and state competitions, and the second is on high school counselor Janell Girodat, who wanted to tell her story of living with breast and lung cancer.

Johnson said she "had already done it, but I made it better" of her gymnastics film. She took an interest in Girodat's story though because it was "more elaborate."

She has gone to the MeritCare Roger Maris Cancer Center in Fargo and filmed one of Girodat's treatments and will be interviewing Girodat as well. It will be a keepsake for her children, Johnson said.

Other topics of films include Detroit Lakes landmarks and a science fiction movie about the impact of television.

Heather Hewchuk's film is titled "More Tragic than Love."

"It's about an unlikely friendship between two students and how they change each other for the better," she explained.

Hewchuk said she got the idea for her film when she attended a state speech meet and heard a similar story.

With the help of friend Chris Damlo, Hewchuk has written, filmed and edited the video. She said she's been involved with school plays, so it wasn't difficult to find friends to act in her movie.

Hewchuk said she plans to go to college for film and has really enjoyed the advanced public speaking class; it's been good experience.

"I enjoy directing and telling people what I envision," she said.

With some students pairing up for the project, Mollberg said he's hoping for about 10 films. If there are more, he and Burnside will select 10 to be shown at the film festival and be up for judging.

One of those pairings is Danica Maloney and Angie Lindquist.

They are making two films -- one on pirates and one a documentary on Day of Caring.

Maloney said she is looking forward to making the "pirates and gypsies and mystical creatures" film more so because of the creativity behind it.

"It was something that popped into our heads. We wanted to do something creative and different," she explained of the idea for a pirate movie. They aren't working from a script because they like to work off the top of their heads, she added.

As for the Day of Caring video, Lindquist said the video will show what the volunteer day does for the community, talking to the older folks it has impacted.

"It's fun and our own ideas," Maloney said of the films. "There are no strict guidelines."

Perhaps the most experienced filmmaker is Mark Schlossman, who has been working on films since he was in fifth grade. He said he learned by watching his older brother and now knows more than his brother does when it comes to films.

Last year he submitted a 2-minute animated film on skateboarding at the Fargo Film Festival. Although he said he didn't place real high, it was only his first film festival submission, so he's got plenty of time for improvement.

For the Lakes Area Student Produced Film Festival, Schlossman is presenting "My Pet." In the film, rather than kissing a frog and turning into a prince, his dog will get kissed and turn into a clone of Schlossman himself. He then teaches his clone to beg and do homework, and buys him a shock collar.

He said his favorite part of film isn't necessarily the making or editing, but rather the response.

"Seeing people's faces when they see it," he said, adding that so many things can be done in film that can't be done in real life.

In the future, Schlossman plans to go into Web design or filmmaking, but in the nearer future, he'd like to enter more film festivals like the 48 Hour Film Project.

During the Lakes Area Film Fest, Mollberg said some community members, who have yet to be named, will score each film on a 1-10 point scale, with the most points winning.

Lakes Area Student Produced Film Festival is Thursday, May 15, at 7 p.m. in the George Simson Auditorium. It is open to the public and a $1 donation to the Key Club is asked for admission.