By Melissa Ford
On Saturday, September 17th at 10 a.m., What the Playground Knows will be premiering at the Lake Theatre. This film noir written by Percy Julian teacher, Mac Boyle and directed by CAST Director of Films, Jimmy Binns, features the talents and hard work of CAST actors and crew members.
What exactly goes into making a film of this magnitude on such a small budget?
It’s a labor of love and according to Director Jimmy Binns “movie magic doesn’t happen overnight.” The process of film-making is very involved. After a script is selected, a storyboard is developed, and in this case, of all 987 lines of dialogue. Next rehearsal runs for four weeks followed by filming, courtesy of Cinematographer Josh Prisching, a former CAST member. “Prisching shot approximately 80 hours of film over a six month period in six locations. Then editing occurred over another three month period, which produced a working version of the film without music,” Binns explains.
To create the perfect musical score, CAST turned to the talented Kaz Boyle.
Kaz Boyle is a professional film scorer and brother of script writer/teacher, Mac Boyle. “After watching the film, Kaz created the environment and sound for every aspect of the film,” says Binns. CAST parent and alumni musicians brought Boyle’s musical creation to life by recording the original music under the capable direction of jazz pianist, Jeremy Kahn (Cast/OPRFHS parent).
Let’s not forget the hard-working CAST members.
“In our film program the bar set for the children is high with the expectation that hard work will help us achieve our desired result. And, we do work hard!” Binns insists. “I tell the kids that to build a trusting community, we need to rely on each other, and respect the guy who is moving equipment, and you need to know your lines.”
Over a year ago auditions were held for the film and during rehearsal the kids learned what it was like to be a film actor. “Yep, they rehearsed their lines over and over,” laughs Binns. Besides memorizing lines, CAST members learned the language of film from “Action!” to “Quiet on the set!” Binns is proud of the fact that his actors and crew started to adapt this language during filming.
Gaining knowledge about the film process is vitally important according to Binns.
“This last summer I taught a class in film-making to 112 kids in CAST summer camp. It’s extremely valuable for kids to learn how to interpret visual images because images are everywhere,” remarks Binns. “There are an army of people like me who know how to design an image to make you think and feel a certain way. Want to make someone hungry? Show orange and yellow colors. Sad? Show images of puppies in the rain. It’s important to understand how people respond to an image.”
CAST film-making is about creating images especially the images kids develop of themselves.
“I hear it all the time from high school teachers and staff. They always tell me that a kid who has been through CAST is poised, self-assured, and does better in school. CAST equips kids with an ability to navigate through life, too. I came to acting naturally because I grew up in the theater. You have a better understanding of who people are because you have played them. You take this knowledge into the world,” Binns expounds.
Amazed and proud of the extraordinary artistic talent being farmed through local schools, Binns enjoys being a part of this community. Involved in the theater for over 40 years, I ask Binns what draws him to directing films for CAST when he could be working with seasoned professionals instead?
“In this particular age range, there’s a raw and wonderful truth and an exuberance that is just infectious to work with. Every day working with CAST members is like watching kids opening a new present! I love their energy and excitement! They haven’t built up those barriers yet and they are much more open to who they are,” enthuses Binns. “I’m hunting for joy and those experiences that are joyful. I would say my career has been a quest for finding joy and creating joyful moments! I find it at CAST working with these kids.”
On September 17th at 10 a.m. get ready for excitement, entertainment, and electrifying suspense by attending the premiere of What the Playground Knows and witness the talents of students and professionals alike. $5 Tickets are a bargain and can be purchased at the door or online at District #97 Web Store or by calling Kathy Simon at 708.524.7848. All proceeds go to CAST.