Students hone art skills during Far East Creative Expressions

Education
Cameraman Alex Kim of Guam High School, sound man Soogeun Oh of Seoul American and actors Jackson Batz of Kubasaki and Sari Seibert of Yokota run through a scene from the short subject film their team made during Far East Creative Expressions.
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Cameraman Alex Kim of Guam High School, sound man Soogeun Oh of Seoul American and actors Jackson Batz of Kubasaki and Sari Seibert of Yokota run through a scene from the short subject film their team made during Far East Creative Expressions.

Students hone art skills during Far East Creative Expressions

by: Dave Ornauer | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: May 30, 2018

TOKYO – Mary Sarantakes gave a studious look to the movie script on the computer screen on which she had written notes for the previous few hours. A few edits here, a few corrections there, she then deleted a whole paragraph and proceeded to rewrite it.

It was the second day of DODEA Pacific’s Far East Creative Expressions in Tokyo. From the early hours of morning at the New Sanno Hotel, she made more notations, interspersed with a few sips of coffee, then made the 15-minute walk to Temple University Japan with the rest of the 99 student-artists from 13 DODEA Pacific schools to finish the script.

“This is hands-on experience in actual filming,” said Sarantakes, a Daegu Middle-High School junior who has been writing similar scripts since she was in middle school. “I’m interested in filmmaking, video and media as a career.”

Engaging in such activity “enhances my personal projects, enriches my experiences and adds to my knowledge,” Sarantakes said. “You’re doing hands-on work and you’re on a time schedule.”

She spent the week of April 30-May 3 as part of a team of four writing and recording a short film called “The Time Office,” their own spin on the TV comedy of similar name.

It was one of five films developed and produced by other broadcast teams cobbled together before the Creative Expressions began.

Five groups of students, none of whom knew each other before the week began, were tasked with writing, filming and producing those short subjects within a four-day span. The other 30 students engaged in drawing, water-color and acrylic painting, photography and mixed media.

This was the eighth such gathering of artists in one setting, an activity that began in May 2010 in Seoul as Far East Film and Entertainment Arts, then morphed over the years into what it has become now.

It’s been a cooperative between DODEA Pacific and Temple University Japan the last several years and is expected to continue to be, officials of both entities said.

Creative Expressions is one of 12 academics- and arts-based activities offered throughout the school year by DODEA Pacific.

Teachers from the various DODEA schools accompanied the students as chaperones, technical advisors and instructors. One instructor came from as far away as Phoenix: Frank Kraljic, a 39-year-old film and television producer who has earned Emmys for some of his work.

“To teach film to the DODEA students is just as inspiring to me,” Kraljic said. “Filmmaking is a hobby and a career for me. To be able to make money and to have fun, you never do a day of work.”

Each of the students present said they got some good takeaways from the four-day session which they say will help them down the road. One of them was Alex Kim, a senior cameraman from Guam High School, who’s interested in producing short films, news features and music videos.

“I’ve been passionate about films and videos since I was 10,” Kim said. “I need these skills to make (a career) happen.”

While the film crews dispersed to various parts of Tokyo – at least within walking distance of the Temple campus – others spent their days creating works of art, ranging from hand painting and drawing to use of computers to mix and match pieces of art into digital compositions.

Yokota sophomore Meaghan Nelson created a drawing of original characters that she said were inspired by music and her thought process. She has been drawing “ever since I could hold a crayon,” Nelson said.

Eventually, she was able to acquire a sketchbook and “started practicing for real,” Nelson said. “You practice and practice until you get to the point where you can actually (draw) what you visualize.”

Another artist, Hailey Gerhart, a Daegu freshman, also plans to go into entertainment and “make a difference,” she says, in what she sees as an industry “gone haywire.”

“I’m not afraid to try something new; that’s how I improve,” Gerhart said. “If I have purpose in everything I draw, I gain from it.”

The first day of the Creative Expressions festival was devoted mainly to introduction and instruction; the bulk of the work was done in the second and third days. The festival closed on Thursday with an exhibition of the film teams’ and individual artists’ works.

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