July 12, 2018

Screening Party Set For Student Filmmakers of Fannie Lou Hamer Project

Join this special one-­time screening of short films created, shot and edited by 16 high school students from the Mississippi Delta 

(July 12, 2018) – The production team of the upcoming documentary, Fannie Lou Hamer’s America, will host a one-time screening of projects created by the students of their summer Young Filmmakers’ Workshop. 

The screening for the students, their family and friends will be held Saturday, July 14, at the B.B. King Interpretive Center and Museum in Indianola. Refreshments will be served at 1 p.m. and the screening will follow at 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.

Fannie Lou Hamer’s America is a multimodal project that includes a documentary detailing the Mississippi sharecropper-turned-civil rights activist’s life, and an educational curriculum, Find Your Voice.

The Young Filmmakers’ Workshop, just one element of the curriculum, was held at Gentry High School in Indianola, and began on June 11 and officially ended on July 9 with students receiving a certificate of completion and a stipend for $500 provided by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  Other sponsors of the workshops were the Mississippi Humanities Council, McDonald’s (Retzer Resources of Greenville), Walmart Supercenter in Indianola and McDonald’s in Indianola.

Instructors for the workshop were professional filmmaker’s Pablo Correa and Joe Davenport. Davenport is the director and editor of the upcoming documentary, Fannie Lou Hamer’s America, and Correa is the videographer and webspinner for the project’s website. Both have taught filmmaking courses at Florida State University. 

“The students were shy at first. But after warming up a bit, they learned how to work together and came up with amazing stories,” said Correa.

"Working with the students has been incredibly exciting. Their enthusiasm and ingenuity remind me of my first time learning to use a camera, and the world of possibilities that opened up for me. I have high hopes that one day these kids will be putting me out of a job," Davenport said.

High school students who attended the workshop are: Keziah Allen, Keyshawn Brison, Jaylen Brown, Selena Davila, Travion Dozier, Zoe Feltson, Anderson Johnson, Markquisse Kirkham, Carledia Jones, Makayla Lenoir, Keyshawn Meeks, Kaitlyn Thomas, Omar Washington, Joseph White, Quanzarius Willard and Kelvin Williams. Most of the students attend Gentry High School in Indianola, one student attends Ruleville Central High - in Fannie Lou Hamer’s hometown  - and others hail from Shaw and Cleveland. 

The purpose of the free workshop was to provide students with unique skills such as filmmaking, primary source research, oral histories, and digital studies, to help them stand out as exemplary candidates for colleges and careers. This project also hopes to encourage more minorities in the field of digital media production. 

“The students took an intense college-level video production course and learned skills that can land them jobs and opportunities in professional media careers, such as how to setup and conduct interviews, pre-production story boarding, 3-point lighting, audio, how to frame shots and shoot b-roll, filming and editing,” Correa said. “We are extremely proud of this group of talented students and would like to invite the community out to share in their accomplishment by viewing their final video project.”

Carledia Jones, a rising senior at Gentry High School, said the workshop provided valuable hands-on experience with documentary production that will help her after graduation.

“I never knew how much work goes into video editing,” said Jones, who plans to pursue a communications degree in college. “I would like to produce YouTube videos one day, and this workshop made me realize I would probably need to partner with an editor when I do. We also learned so much about everything that goes into filmmaking and being able to use our own creativity and ideas for film projects.”

Within the first week, the students had completed their first film project together, Out of Many.

Correa and Davenport plan to teach the course to a new a group of students on an annual basis since Sunflower County schools do not have an audio-visual program. There is already a waiting list for 2019. 

Charles Modley, president of the Sunflower County NAACP,  Gentry High School Principal Willie Bolden, Jacqueline Williams of Gentry High School, educator Willena White and Timla Washington of Congressman Bennie Thompson’s office all assisted in recruiting students for the workshop, in conjunction with the Sunflower County Consolidated School District. 

A two-day educator’s workshop was also held in June where seven teachers from the Mississippi Delta helped the Fannie Lou Hamer’s America Curriculum Team, Drs. Maegan Parker Brooks and Davis Houck, develop the K-12 lessons plans for students based on the upcoming film. An interactive website for students and teachers and a virtual tour to promote tourism in the state are also part of the Find Your Voice Curriculum.

Sunflower County was targeted for the curricular pilot programs because of Fannie Lou Hamer’s love, commitment and dedication to helping citizens of the historically impoverished community. 

The documentary is slated for completion in March 2019. For more information log onto www.fannielouhamerdocumentary.com, Facebook: Fannie Lou Hamer’s America and Twitter: @flhamerica.

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