By Madeline Deninger
Iowa City’s nonprofit cinema FilmScene, 118 E. College St., has been host to more than independent films in the past weeks.
With art supplies and iPads scattered around the back room, the theater has become an animation studio for students participating in FilmScene’s animation camp.
The camp, sponsored by Hills Bank, offers three sessions for different age groups. It allows students to create an animated short film, which is then premièred at FilmScene. The films will also be shown before children’s movies at the theater, camp leader Mark Jones said.
Jones, a professional animator and freelance artist, worked in the Iowa City School District for seven years. He now travels throughout the country, leading animation workshops in schools.
This past week, students made films revolving around the theme of invention, utilizing techniques such as claymation, paper animation, and green screen. Jones believes the camp provides an opportunity to explore animation more in depth than in a classroom.
“I taught for seven years in schools, and in that time, I came up with the animation curriculum, which I really enjoyed doing with my art students,” he said. “It’s so great to be able to dig into it further and have a full week with students that really enjoy it.”
For one of the students, 12-year-old Alissa, the camp was an opportunity to work more independently than in a school art class.
“Lots of school classes can be a little slower paced, but here it’s just like, ‘Here, put this thing together,’ ” she said.
The format of the camp also allows students to create films that are products of their own work, Jones said.
“I’ll be honest, it’s not like a ‘fun in the sun’ summer camp; we are in here working,” he said. “I think it’s fun work, and especially this week, I’ve seen them really enjoy this and get into the movie, but there are times when it’s like, ‘I’m not going to cut out another thing; I’ve been doing this all day.’ It’s rigorous. I think the payoff is huge, because they get to see something that they have made, and they did it all on their own. It’s very much theirs, which is not something you can fake.”
With materials such as clay and paper, students used the app Stop Motion Studio to create one- to two-minute films while working in groups. Each group’s animations are combined to create the short film shown at FilmScene.
While the animation process can be long, Jonah Krueger, 15, enjoyed working with the other students on the project.
“The only thing that makes [the process] less tedious is the laughs we get out of it,” he said.
He said he traveled from Fairfield, Iowa, to attend the camp in hopes of learning new things about animation.
“I’ve had very little experience with [animation] before,” he said. “But I’ve always been intrigued with drawing and art, so going to the camp sounded like fun because I could learn more about things I enjoy doing.”