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Students bringing literature to life

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / May 13, 1998

Film studios, from time to time, come to the River Parishes to make their movies on location. In recent weeks, three groups of St. Peter Schoolstudents have been making movies of their own.

Thanks to a $2,665 grant from the Louisiana Arts Council and the able direction of Jack Snowdy, “Read the Story – Make the Movie” is giving young actors, scriptwriters and directors hands-on experience in real movie magic.

In cooperation with Kelley Landaiche, English teacher for grades six, seven and eight, the classes each selected a story in their literature books to bring to life. Sixth-graders chose “Papa’s Parrot,” seventh-graders picked”When Shlemiel Went to Warsaw” and eighth-graders are bringing “Scarface” to the screen.

“Papa’s Parrot” is the story of a boy who discovers through the words of a talking parrot how much his florist father truly loves him. It was shotpartially at Chateau De Fleur on Central Avenue in Reserve.

“When Shlemiel Went to Warsaw” is a comedy about a young man tricked into believing he was living in one town while actually living at home.

“Scarface” is an Indian legend about a young brave who asks permission from the Sun to marry a royal maiden.

Other locations included the Mississippi River batture, a hospital, a physician’s home and the woods along Reserve Canal.

Snowdy guided each class through the process of scriptwriting, and students became makeup artists, costumers, screenwriters, directors and camera operators.

A Panasonic video camera was purchased with some of the grant money for the project, and it will remain the property of the school.

At the Chateau De Fleur location shooting, Jeremiah Johnson rehearsed his lines as the florist father while Brandy McCormick operated the camera.

Just off the set, Jeremiah’s mother, Jolyn, recalled with irony: “When I was in high school, Mr. Snowdy did a film with me. That was an 8mm film,though, and silent.”Carefully, Snowdy coached the young actor through his lines and movements, with the six-grader arranging flowers, glancing at a wall clock and then out the window as he awaited the arrival of his “son.”Other students checked continuity, scripts in hand, and checked angles and lighting.

Near Reserve Canal, Justin Richard rehearsed a scene again and again with Keith Brock, who was The Rabbit and wore clip-on bunny ears. Again andagain the pair of eighth-graders found it hard to keep from laughing. Atone side Mallory Pereira as White Cloud checked the flower in her headband. At an earlier shoot, a scene where Justin, as Scarface, tried towoo Mallory, as White Cloud, was delayed and shot again and again as their fellow students out of shot kept laughing during filming.

Assisting the students, Snowdy and Landaiche is Lennen Madere, a sales manager for Reserve Telephone Co. who has experience as a TVphotographer.

“We’re under such pressure with the eighth-graders because they’re going to high school next year and we won’t have them after May,” Snowdy commented.

The project is due to be completed Sept. 30, after which an “Oscar Night”is planned to honor the outstanding actor, actress, director, writer and photographer and to select best picture.

Snowdy, who has worked with St. John Theatre as managing director forseveral years, is a volunteer teacher at St. Peter’s School and has writtenseveral plays.

For the young film makers, this taste of Hollywood shows education can also be fun.

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