Second-graders Turn Filmmakers, Documenting The Wild

April 10, 1991|By Marc LeGoff | Marc LeGoff,Staff writer

Seven-year-old Tara Murray is "drawing with wolves" this week.

And Dominic Sessa and Alexander Quach are drawing with jaguars and monkeys.

These three second-graders, along with 15 others from Waterloo Elementary School and a handful from the Maryland School for the Deaf in Columbia, are participating in a filmmaking workshop conducted by wildlife photographer Martin Kratt at Waterloo.

During his weeklongvisit coordinated through the Artists in Residence program of the Howard County Arts Council, Kratt says, he hopes to instill in the children an appreciation for filmmaking as well as a concern for the environment and vanishing wildlife.

"I try to impart to the kids that they can do whatever they want to with their lives, whether they're interested in photography, art, wildlife -- or anything," said Kratt, 25. "They can sit at home and experience life by watching TV, or theycan go outside and visit a stream or park and see nature firsthand."

The workshop was coordinated by Gifted and Talented resources teacher Keith Zembower and art instructor Lee Schwartz. Joining selectedWaterloo second-and third-graders are six elementary school studentsfrom the Maryland School for the Deaf's Columbia campus, located across the street.

"We feel that this filmmaking residency is a unique opportunity for hearing and hearing-impaired students to work together cooperatively. It's also a lot of fun," Zembower said.

The pupils were chosen based on their ability to draw and their interest in wildlife.

Each child drew a picture of an animal that lives in theAmazon rain forest and studied its habitat, behavior and diet. Laterthis week, all the drawings will be videotaped and made into a documentary-style film.

Youngsters from Waterloo will narrate -- and those from the School for the Deaf will sign -- a short segment about their animals. The entire film will be both narrated and signed.

Kratt told the children to sketch their animals as realistically as possible because the project is to be an educational film that their schoolmates will view. Copies of the film will also be sent to the WorldWildlife Foundation and the Baltimore Zoo.

"Oops. I thought I could draw it any way I wanted," said Dominic, 7, who yesterday morning had already colored the ears of his jaguar bright blue and green. Instead of starting over, however, he decided to finish the rest of his big cat with more lifelike hues.

Dominic said he learned that "jaguars can carry a 150-pound animal they've killed all the way to the tippy-top of the tree. That's a lot of work.

"Originally, I wanted to have (the cat) splitting open an elephant, but Martin said that would be too violent and bloody," he said. "I guess I'll just make it running around the jungle."

Evelyn Hill Johnson and Carol Snyder, teachers at the Maryland School for the Deaf, told their pupils to tryto draw things proportionately. "Think about it. You can't have a snake taller than the tree it lives in," Johnson said.

Waterloo PTA cultural arts representative Janice Falk saw Kratt at an arts showcase she attended and was impressed by his artistic and enthusiastic approach to teaching. Kratt's weeklong residency in Howard County is being paid for by a $500 grant from the Howard County Arts Council, matched by the two schools.

Although he had given lectures and shown his wildlife films to pupils before, Kratt says this is his first filmmaking workshop where the youngsters will produce their own film.

On Monday, he showed two of his films, one about Costa Rica and the other about Madagascar, in the Waterloo auditorium during an assembly.

Kratt is the winner of the 1990 Hal Kammerer film award and otherphotography awards.

He and his college-age brother shoot and narrate the films themselves. The New Jersey native is talking to educational television producers about creating his own wildlife series.

"I try to make my films humorous and accessible to a general audience. More like a wildlife adventure, not just a wildlife documentary," he said.

Kratt says that sharing his knowledge with the children isalmost as much fun as the actual filming.

In one scene of the films he showed Monday, he was lying in the sand observing giant sea turtles. "It was kind of a mess. The turtles were moving all around, andthere was sand flying everywhere," he said.

And just like he toldhis young audience earlier, "I was exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly what I love to do."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.