Lights, camera, summer camp!

Florida Film Academy opens St. Augustine campus in time for summer fun

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Perhaps you know a budding Scorsese, a little Meryl Streep or even a young Billy Wilder. No matter which side of the camera your kid adores, there’s now a place ready to nurture their creativity and let their imaginations be the star of the show. 

Recently, the Florida Film Academy (https://flfilmacademy.com/) opened a campus in St. Augustine, just in time for summer camp 2019. The Academy offers a variety of programs tailored to visual storytelling and open to students ages 7 to 12 and 13 to 18.

The camps welcome first-time students who may be interested in filmmaking, animation or acting. In addition, any students with prior experience can join higher-level camps. The programming includes, “The Wonderful World of Art & Animation,” “DSLR for Teens,” the “Art of Anime and Animation,” “Lights, Action, Make a Movie!” a pre-college film, animation and visual effects camp hosted at Flagler college, as well as the classic “Make a Movie” camp.

Riley Chance, 12, has been to the camp for the past three years. She said that “Special Effects” week was her favorite, although she loved being able to learn all facets of the movie industry.

“My favorite aspect of camp is that it is so hands-on,” Chance said. “I also love that you can try out different spots every time. One day you can do camera, then another you can do acting or editing. Every day is so interesting because we have different challenges or genres. I did a special effects week, which was my favorite week, and one of our challenges was to include a green screen.”

Finding out what aspects of the industry they enjoy is one benefit to working together as a team to create a final product. Camp Director and co-owner Stefanie Robinson said there is an entire spectrum of life skills and applicable experiences that students can learn from participating in making a movie.

“They are certainly learning social skills above and beyond just the screen,” Robinson said. “They are learning how to communicate, how to take responsibility, delegate and manage projects. It gives them a lot of confidence and it helps them be able to stand up for themselves at school, not just other students but with adults.”

One of the original founders of the Academy, Kay Hill, found a “huge gap for creative kids” in programing after spending time in the U.S. producing episodes for a documentary series for National Geographic. The Academy soon opened a campus in Winter Garden, Florida, and currently provides summer programs around the U.S. and overseas. This summer in St. Augustine with be the first summer for youth education at the new campus.

Robinson said that the importance of filmmaking shouldn’t be overlooked or understated.

“It’s important to understand the importance and the value of telling a good story,” Robinson said. “That is something that has been with us since the beginning of time. We’ve gone from oral storytelling from tribe to tribe to streaming everything on Netflix from our home. It’s something that is at the core of the human experience.”

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