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Storytelling at heart of WHS filmmaking course

Wahkiakum High School students are learning about all the work that goes on behind the scenes of film and television production, thanks to Ken Johnson and Jeremiah Rounds of Wahkiakum West. The hands-on class is taking the teens through the whole process from pre- production to post-production, and making what may seem like an out of reach career entirely accessible.

"We've been talking to both Wahkiakum and Naselle schools about ways to engage the kids and some of the stuff we do as far as careers," Johnson, the CEO for Wahkiakum West said. "We want to make kids aware and maybe inspire them to think about the entertainment industry, field, even if they are not going to be an A-list actor, there are still plenty of jobs in the industry."

Johnson, and Rounds, who is the Marketing and Media Manager for WW, have a lot of professional experience in the field. Rounds is a graphic designer who has worked on sets for films in the Jason Bourne franchise, and joined Johnson behind the scenes of a series about Porsche which was filmed in Las Vegas and debuted on Discovery's Motor Trend Network.

"We're not just a couple of hobbyists," Johnson said.

With 11 weeks to teach a course on film-making, their hours in the classroom have been jam- packed, and they are hoping to do a lot more.

Students are learning that when it comes to video, whether a commercial, a show, a documentary, or a feature narrative film, it's all about the storytelling.

They started with the basics of story theory and walked through the phases of filming, talking about pre-production, the producer's role, principal photography, and more.

On Friday, students worked with Johnson on storyboarding while Rounds gave a lesson on framing and lighting a scene.

This month, they hope to shoot something after school with the students, so they can have something to show as a finished project, which means editing and post-production as well.

"It's going to be tough to get enough hours to do the pre-production, line up what we need to film, and film it and edit it before the end of the month, but we are going to try," Johnson said.

If it works out for the school and Wahkiakum West, the class may become a regular offering a WHS. In the meantime, the pair are also talking to staff at Naselle School District to see if they can do something similar there as well.

Johnson is excited to do more, and knows that Wahkiakum West has more to offer, including a look at another potential career, network engineering. He is hoping they will get an opportunity to return to the classroom to show students how they build networks to provide high speed internet to the community.

"We're still in conversations about other things we can bring to the table that are germane to modern careers," Johnson said.


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