WWU Grad Gets Youth Involved

Carl Canwell produces film with Dayton youth group

By: Becky St. Clair

Above: Crew members dressed up for their limo ride to the theatre. Below: The theatre was reserved specifically for the film showing.

Over the past several years, Walla Walla University has had many students involved with young people in Dayton, Wash.  This trend continued this last school year with Carl Canwell, 2008 Mass Communications graduate.

Canwell was enrolled in Directed Media Production, a class where the students create their own projects.

“You find your own media project, and make it happen,” explains Canwell.  “It’s very much a class in self-motivation!”

While in conversation with a friend one day, Canwell learned that Chris Drake, Director of Media Design at WWU, had an idea to make a short film with a youth group in Dayton.  Since this coincided with his class, Canwell decided to look into it.

Canwell met with the youth group and the group was excited about the project.  Each young person was given an assignment such as acting, camera operation, sound, and lighting.  The idea was to give the group an experience like that on the set of a movie production.  Canwell directed the group and was in charge of the project.

“Being in a teaching role was very rewarding for me,” says Canwell.  “It was fun giving those young people an experience that was new to them.”

Once the project was finished, Drake arranged for a limousine to pick up Canwell and the young people involved in the movie production.  After driving around town for a while, the group was taken to the Dayton movie theatre, which had been rented for a film showing specifically for the young people.  

Not only was the movie they had helped produce shown, but also Canwell’s senior project, and a few other WWU student films.

“That definitely made those kids’ day!” says Canwell with a laugh.  “One of them kept telling everyone he could find, ‘I rode in a limo!’  It was great!”

The young people weren’t the only ones at the showing; a few church members and the families of the young people involved also came to see the finished product.  In total, around 60 people attended the showing.

The film project was one those young people will likely never forget, and one that Canwell will always enjoy remembering.

“It is inspiring for me to work with youth,” says Canwell.  “They are so full of energy and enthusiasm.  All the work we did was worth it when I saw their reactions to seeing their film in a theatre.  What a great experience.”

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