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Young Actors Theatre Campers Explore Film Production

By: Amanda Karioth Thompson, COCA | August 02, 2017

It was announced just a few weeks ago that homegrown actor Tony Hale had been nominated for a fifth Emmy Award. Widely recognized for his outstanding comedy work in “Arrested Development” and “Veep,” Hale has already hoisted two of the golden statues and has been nominated for eight other major awards. Vocal about his local roots as a student at Young Actors Theatre, he publicly credits the organization for much of his success on the large and small screens.

Natalie Futrell, YAT’s company manager, said, “I hear stories that Tony was a cut up and crazy on the stage but then he found his niche in film.” YAT is betting that film will suit other emerging artists and they offer year-round classes through their Film and Television Division, for which Hale serves as a consultant. Additionally, local children have the opportunity to explore acting and film techniques, script writing, and editing during YAT’s week long Film Production summer camp.

“Some kids are like, ‘singing isn’t my strongestpoint and I don’t like dancing but I’m reallyinterested in acting. I don’t want to be onstagein front of 216 people but I’d love to work on a different type of acting,’ ” said Futrell. For the

past two summers, YAT has offered that option to middle and high school age campers. Led by instructors Gina Jordan Hupp and Katie Seitzinger, nearly two dozen campers dug deep to find their inner scoundrel in keeping with this year’s theme of Disney villains.

Thirteen-year-old Anna Hickey is a year-round “Yattie” and she attended the film production camp last summer. Back again to expand her knowledge, Hickey was excited about her role as Maleficent even though this wicked godmother was a far cry from her natural personality. “I try to be nice in real life but it’s been fun to portray a different type of character.”

Another exercise that stretched her artistically was developing the screenplay. “Writing was a little different than what we’re used to. We usually get a script and learn the lines but it was nice to write the whole script for ourselves. We all know what’s going to happen and it’s our own touch on the story.”

Instructor Katie Seitzinger wrote an outline for the screenplay and then encouraged the campers to come up with their own ideas for fleshing out their mischievous characters. “The good thing about these villains is that no one actually hates them because they’re so bad it’s funny,” laughed Seitzinger. “They go through all of these dramatic, extensive, evil plans and they never work so I hope that the kids understand that it’s easier to be nice than it is to be mean.”

Along with kindness, Seitzinger hopes to emphasize the concept of trust and she does so in a way that may seem surprising. Villains and battles go hand in hand and stage combat factored heavily into the camp. Sword play, pratfalls, and choreographed slaps and punches were peppered throughout the scenes. Making these illusions believable takes considerable skill and timing as well as clear communication and a commitment to safety.

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