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Reel Life


Record, The (Hackensack NJ)

PATERSON - Passaic County Community College already provided computer training to inner-city residents. Then the college's Community Technology Center created Hollywood High, a program to teach local teens how to use digital moviemaking equipment. This week, Hollywood High's first eight-week course came to an end with a screening of films on topics ranging from gang initiation rites to the lives of football stars.


The 12 students, all members of the Father English community center's after school program, were excited to see their works on the screen. "I turned red, I was nervous," said Wesley Lugardo, 16. The John F. Kennedy High School sophomore came up with his own story idea, wrote a script, then illustrated it using still photographs he found on the Internet. Using moviemaking software to splice the images, Lugardo added voice-over narration, special effects and music. The 11/2-minute piece was based on the time he was beaten up and robbed by a local gang. It was a story Lugardo had told many times, but had never tried illustrating.

"A movie tells the actual feeling I went through, so they feel how I felt when they did it to me," he said. "If I just tell it to someone, they might not get the feeling." Learning to use digital technology to tell stories is just one skill that Miryam "Gaby" Rinkerman, director of the technology center, hopes students will take away. She said the center's mission is to make sure inner-city residents, from teachers to seniors, have the same access to technology and training as those in wealthier neighborhoods. She said that access to computers is half the battle - they need to be used for more than playing video games. "Even in the places where they had the technology, people didn't know how to use it meaningfully," Rinkerman said of her visits to other community centers. "It's not just access to the technology it's what you do with it once you have it."

Hollywood High organizers made sure students received industry-style recognition. After Tuesday's screening, each student got special award and copies of their videos on DVD. Lugardo, whose award was for "best autobiographical subject," beamed. "I never got an award for anything before," he said. "Getting the award, it's like when you take a final shot in a basketball game, and the time is running out. It feels like that."




June 30, 2005 Section: LOCAL Edition: Two Star P Page: L03


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