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Cruz Bay
Monday, December 5, 2022


July 11, 2002 They crowded Brewers Bay beach asking residents and visitors for their life stories, in five minutes or less. They played in the water, experimenting with underwater videography and enjoying the sun.
Thursday was not just another day at the beach for a group of 15 local students. They are part of the University of the Virgin Islands Youth Movie making Workshop and they're learning to be film makers.
Charlotte Amalie High School senior Richard Simmonds explained the day's efforts. The students were working on collective projects. Some of them were collecting life stories, others were capturing poetry on film and still others were filming the natural environment. Simmonds is a veteran of the workshop. He starred in last year's summer film project, "Faith."
Ricky Gidron, author of two poems filmed on the beach Thursday afternoon, said this was the first time he has seen his poetry on film. "It's pretty fun."
Under the direction of visiting artist Anula Shetty and local self- proclaimed "gopher"Denise Humphrey, the students will spend seven weeks studying digital film production including the use of digital cameras, computers and software editing programs. The end result of the workshop will be a short fiction film conceived, written, produced and directed by the students.
Reichhold Center for the Arts Director, David Edgecombe, founded the project last year and is pleased with the results so far. "To watch the Digital Moviemaking Workshop grow from an idea into something that has proven to be engaging to young people is delightful," he said.
Edgecombe said last year's budding filmmakers developed skills that will last them a lifetime. "It proved to be a wonderful experience for the students last year and we expect the same will be true again this summer."
Humphrey said the idea behind the program was to involve kids in the process of film making. "Kids like to be consumers," she said. The program teaches them the mechanics and the intellectual process behind the films they like to watch.
Shetty said this year's group ranges in age from 12 to 17. She is amazed by how quickly the students have taken to the mechanics of digital film making. "It took them less time to learn the editing equipment than it took me," she laughed, "They're just amazing."
The students are still brainstorming their final project. Humphrey said the group is currently torn between a film on dysfunctional families and one on the legend behind the locally infamous Cow-Foot woman.
According to 13-year-old Greglan Ward, the Cow-Foot woman is a lady with cow's hooves instead of human feet.. "She's a beautiful, beautiful woman," he said, "And you don't know she has hooves until you get close to her."
He said he first heard the story from his father who saw the Cow-Foot woman while driving with some friends. "He and his friends were driving and they saw a pretty woman on the side of the road," Ward said, "They went back to giver her a ride and she lifted up her dress, just a little bit, and you could see her hooves."
Ward, who will enter Charlotte Amalie High School in the fall, said he has been "obsessed" with making movies since his parents gave him a video camera for Christmas last year.
Fellow student Gregg Farrington is similarly obsessed. His passion is special effects. The 12-year-old All Saint's student said he goes to see movies all of the time. "I have a lot of effects in my videos," he said.
The students will premier their final production – whether the legend of the Cow-Foot woman or a story of dysfunctional families — on Aug. 9 at the Reichhold Center. The event will be open to the public and will start, Humphrey said, at around 7:30 p.m. Students will also show some of the other work produced during the workshop at the film premier.

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