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Is this school haunted? Time to call the ghost ferreters!

Student-produced film reaps awards

Filmmaking at Lee Middle/High School involves working together, operating technology from sound to lighting to editing, showing off acting chops –– and ferreting out some ghosts.

The rewards of a summer filmmaking experience are (not grimly) being reaped by Lee students who spent a week last June creating a 10-minute short film, as part of the school’s first summer Movie Making Extravaganza class offered by Kelly McGee, district’s media specialist and theater director.

Lee Middle/High School students pose during a scene of “Ghost Ferreters,” a film they created that won awards at the Kent County Teen Film Festival

Their film, “Ghost Ferreters,” recently nabbed awards for People’s Choice and Best Live Action Short at the Kent County Teen Film Festival. The film is also a finalist in the Kalamazoo Teen Filmmaker Festival, scheduled for March 17, and Golden Lion Awards High School Film Festival, in Cincinnati, April 28.

The cast and crew of “Ghost Ferreters”

  • Junior Luke McGee as snarky Mike;
  • Sophomore Olivia Clark as tomboy Billy;
  • Junior Eddie Carter-Cook as lead ferreter Phil;
  • Senior Jacky Garcia as cool girl Michelle;
  • Junior Jania Corp as scared girl;
  • Kelly McGee as Mr. Principal and the voice of a puppet.
  • Other cast and crew members included: Senior Jackie Lopez, cinematographer, and sixth-graders Kevin Groendyke and Ben Landis.

Eight students created the film using the school’s audio-visual equipment and a previously written script, dusted off and adapted for Lee students by junior Luke McGee, son of Kelly McGee.

Luke said he was inspired by the iconic cartoon “Scooby-Doo” and the paranormal reality TV show “Ghost Hunters” to write the campy, ghostly caper. Lee Middle/High School, a historic building complete with classic architecture and a “tech graveyard where old computers go,” was the perfect set for ghost hunters to encounter more than they anticipated, Luke said.

“It was really interesting to learn how to pace a film over the course of a week,” Luke said. “I learned so much more about filmmaking than I ever had before, because I always made casual films and stuff for fun. This was much more of an intensive project, and it was a lot of fun to be able to learn how to use equipment and be able to learn how to make professional-type films.”

From left, junior Luke McGee; Kelly McGee, the district’s media specialist and theater director; junior Eddie Carter-Cook; and junior Janyia Corp hold their awards

Inspiring Experience

While the filmmaking was student-led, the cast and crew received guidance from local filmmaker Lauren Bailey.

The cast included Luke, sophomore Olivia Clark, junior Eddie Carter-Cook, senior Jacky Garcia, junior Jania Corp and Kelly McGee, who won the award for Best Adult Cast Member at the Kent County festival. Senior Jackie Lopez was the cinematographer.

“I learned what it was like to work behind the scenes, to work with a team and to be able to act and see how (the film) is going to end up,” Olivia said. “It was a lot of fun. I feel like I made a lot of new friends and I learned things I never thought I could learn.”

“It was very inspiring being able to work with the cast,” added Eddie. “Seeing some of the work that they’ve done inspired me to do more. It was really exciting. I’m hoping to be in more plays and do more in filming.”

Kelly McGee created the course with the mission of having students create a “movie the way it’s supposed to be made” in one week’s time, complete with script, sound checks, angles and lighting. He also wanted to expose them to an exciting career field.

“I wanted to create an experience that was closer to what they might see if they went into that field, and to give them an understanding of how much time, work and preparation is required to do something really well.”

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Not only is this gang talented filmmakers, there are some extremely talented actors as well. Bravo to you and to your teacher!

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