Student-produced videos to be shown

November 01, 1995|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Nobody will mistake the videos produced by students in the Baltimore Youth Television Project for the work of polished professionals. But the short documentaries speak volumes about the kids who made them.

In "Specialties," a Harlem Park Middle School student entertains basketball dreams, even though his neighborhood is hoopless and kids dunk through the spaces of playground monkey bars.

In "Bass: The Final Frontier," a Hamilton Middle School production, an abstract series of scenes showing kids rapturously rolling down a grassy hill is interrupted by a disturbing abduction.

"Back in the Day," also created by a Harlem Park Middle School team, cuts between a nostalgic monologue by a Pennsylvania Avenue merchant to the electrifying moves of a contemporary inner-city marching band.

Tonight, the videos produced by teams from five Baltimore middle schools will be screened at 7 at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Mayor Kurt Schmoke is scheduled to greet the artists and audience.

Fifteen-year-old Antonio Jett, who made "Back in the Day" with his brother Antoine and classmate Darryl Gray under the guidance of artist Sherwin Mark, will give an introductory speech.

The experience brought into play Antonio's love of interviewing people and his journalistic aspirations, he says. "The way they just let us do everything ourselves, it was nothing like school," says Antonio, now a freshman at Southwestern High School. It was hard work, but the final product reflects solid teamwork and "what good patience" we had, he says.

In its second year, the Baltimore Youth Television program was designed to give kids an opportunity to learn video technology and to work as a team to conceive, research and complete a project, says Renee Levine, dean of continuing studies at Maryland Institute, College of Art. It is the brainchild of Maryland Institute and a conglomerate of co-sponsoring organizations, including the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the Baltimore Film Forum, the Enoch Pratt Free Library, the University of Baltimore, WJZ-TV and the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Art and Culture.

"We very much hope that through doing these works that they understand a bit more about the power of the medium and that they can understand what they're viewing on their own TVs with a greater sense of awareness," Ms. Levine says.

Katherine Kendall, a photographer who served as a mentor to the Fallstaff Middle School team, which made a video about Baltimore called "Past, Present, Future," measures the program's success in a more personal way. By choosing to participate in the Baltimore Youth Television project, students opted not to spend their Saturdays playing video games or watching television, she says. It was also a way for city children, who may not have stable homes, to spend time with attentive adults.

The public is invited to attend tonight's BYTV premiere at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the screening begins at 7 p.m. To R.S.V.P., call 225-2219.

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