Shannon Moss, a broadcast journalist, gives feedback March 30, 2019, to Waterville Senior High School senior Gabe Ferris during the Maine Student Film & Video Conference at Mid-Maine Technical Center in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file photo

The Maine Film Center and the Mid-Maine Technical Institute, both of Waterville, have teamed up to present a new virtual film program that will cater to students in the Central Maine area.

The Maine Student Film Crew is a free membership program for students in grades 7-12 that will feature a series of monthly workshops hosted on Zoom by filmmakers and film experts.

The new program has temporarily replaced the Maine Student Film and Video Conference, another collaboration of the film center and Mid-Maine Tech, since restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic prohibit in person gatherings of more than 50 people.

“We’ve been partnering to put on the conference which we did in 2018 and 2019,” Mike Perreault, executive director of the Maine Film Center, said during a phone interview Friday. “The conference brought 250 students and educators from all around Maine to the Mid-Maine Technical Center here in Waterville for a day of workshops on everything film related …

“But we had scheduled it for the end of March this year, and obviously when COVID hit we had to postpone that. So basically with no clear date for when we would be able to resume an in-person conference, we’ve decided to switch to a virtual format …” 

The workshops will include topics such as preproduction, cinematography, drones, animation and editing, according to Perreault. 

Students will also create film projects between the monthly workshops and submit them to the film center for a chance to win prizes and film gear.

This Thursday at 7 p.m., Maine filmmaker and educator Peter Logue will host the first workshop through Zoom. 

Program co-director Dave Boardman, who teaches mass communication at Mid-Maine Tech, said the Maine Student Film Crew was created as a way to continue engaging with students during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The conference was a huge success,” Boardman said. “And we really didn’t want to lose that momentum when we got into the pandemic. We realized that it would really be impossible to bring kids together in person for a conference like we’d been running, so this felt like a real natural next step. To invite young people to meet with professionals and work directly with them.”

For Boardman, it was important that the film center and Mid-Maine Tech find a way to adapt.

“Young people love creating. They’re doing it all the time, whether it’s for YouTube, Instagram or TikTok,” Boardman said. “We’re connecting them to each other and some of the best professionals working in the digital arts today. We’re not going to let the pandemic end the sense of collaboration and mentorship that the conference has helped us establish for Maine young people.”

Perreault agreed, adding that the program will continue until they are able to safely hold a conference in person again.

“We don’t really have an end date in mind. We’re going to keep going as long as we can or as long as we need to,” Perreault said. “Until we can meet in person, we’re going to do it online because we think it’s so important to give Maine’s young creative minds an outlet and an opportunity to continue building their skillset.”

Students can sign up for the program at MaineStudentFilm.org.

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