Students develop skills at Aurora Film Academy

Jun 14, 2016

Students at East Aurora High School have an opportunity to learn about making films. The school houses the Aurora Film Academy.  Tuesday night their work will be showcased at the annual student Film Festival at the Aurora Theatre. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley met with some seniors who shared their film work and experience. 

East Aurora seniors Ethan McAttee, Heather Gervasi & Ted Kutina discuss their film work.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“I’m Ted Kutina. The main project I’m working on right now is we’re call them feature films basically,” said Kutina, a senior at East Aurora High School.  

Aurora Film Academy students have been able to participate in every aspect of film making.  This program provides creative writing, drama and film production all in an integrated school course.

East Aurora student Heather Gervasi, inside the film academy, displays students work.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“Ethan McAttee. I’m a senior. As a group, we just wrote and shot a sitcom,” said McAttee.

“I’m Heather Gervasi. I’m a senior in high school and the project I’m working on right now is a documentary for a film we shot back in December/November, which is called ‘Scrooge’,” Gervasi said.

Gervasi, who will attend Niagara University this fall for Theater said she actually loves acting, but had a chance to work on creative writing, learning how much work goes into film making.

“I was always very nervous when it came to creative writing. I still really am. I’m not a fan of my writing most of the time, but the teachers that we have are really good at supporting you,” Gervasi remarked.   

“To throw them, immerse them in a media project and see different skill sets that, not only did I did not know they had, but they didn’t know they had until they tried it,” said Tom Kegler, East Aurora Art Teacher. Kegler works with students at the school's film academy.  

Tom Kegler, East Aurora Art Teacher, works with students at the school's film academy.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Kegler discussed how fortunate they are to have this program, given the many financial cuts school districts are facing.

“We have not been immune to all the budget cuts that the state has been handing out, we’ve had a lot of courses cut and some ways by melding our English, writing and drama classes in with the arts, it has actually preserved some of the programs,” Kegler explained.

“I really don’t know how many schools even have something even close to what we have, which is amazing in itself,” Gervasi said.

Students worked on cutting up hours of footage and audio that they produced, with scripts narration, and mix in music and sound for their final film.

Ethan McAttee shows off work in the film academy.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

McAttee has been editing the final sitcom written by the students.

“I have to take their final version, edit the audio so it is also at the same level and then add a color the whole thing so it all looks the same. It’s a lot of work, more work than I’ve ever done on any project before, but it is so gratifying to see it come to fruition,” described McAttee.

Students show off their short films.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

McAtte wants to be a professional film writer and director Denison University in Ohio to study film.   

Kutina said he's headed for Savanah College in Georgia this fall for the film and television program.

“The work we do in Film Academy it’s like so different than anything that we’ve done at the school,” Kutina said. “What do you like about it most?” asked Buckley. “Well what I like about film is that it is an art that combines a lot of things. It has acting, it has writing, and it has cinematography. I love art, I love telling stories, so when you do all those things in a combination it’s really cool to see it all come together,” replied Kutina. 

Ted Kutina shows off work in the film academy.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“I always love learning new things,” said Jacob Kaiser, senior at East Aurora High School. He showed off his film that featured an SNL style-skit on a parody on ‘Lazy Sunday’.   

Students show off their short films.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Kaiser he's been acting since he was eight-years old. He will attend Daemen College. But he actually interested in social work, however, he would like to start up acting classes for Buffalo’s immigrants and refugees to teach them different forms of communication.

“A lot of acting is done with your body, as opposed to your voice, or even with your voice, but not necessarily the words you say, just your inflection, so if they are struggling with the English language, acting with their body and with their inflection can really help more easily portray what they want to say,” Kaiser explained.

Students create short films at the Aurora Film Academy.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Students enjoyed their film making experience, learning all the aspects and now Tuesday night they will see how an audience responds to their productions.  The student film festival begins with a 6:30 p.m. reception followed by a 7 p.m. screening of their work. It's a free event, but a $5 donation is suggested.