Workshop opens world of filmmaking to those with disabilities in Prince George’s -- Gazette.Net







Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Leave a Comment
Print this Article

Some residents with intellectual and physical challenges are learning how to make movies thanks to new workshops started by the Arc of Prince George’s County.

Participants learn to take photos, shoot and edit film, and create simple narratives using iPads, said Pierre Walcott, executive director of The Creative Edge Studio of Prince George’s, a community group of filmmakers focused on increasing film-related educational opportunities.

The group, an affiliate organization of the nonprofit Hyattsville Community Development Corp., worked with officials at the Arc, a nonprofit group that provides services to the county’s intellectually and physically disabled, on the program.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Elizabeth Booher, 42, who lives in Largo and described herself as having an intellectual disability, said of the workshops. “I have never used [an iPad] before … . I learned a lot about how to take photos and put it together.”

The workshops run Mondays and Fridays with 10 participants from the Arc’s day programs in Laurel, Temple Hills and Largo. The day program offers educational and recreational activities.

The workshops started as a pilot program in January and will run until May, Walcott said. Arc officials will assess whether to continue the program afterward, he said.

Participants do not have to pay to take part workshops. They are chosen based on their level of interest and whether they would be good candidates to work with the iPads, said Kim Njowusi, director of the Laurel day program.

Walcott said he wanted to ensure that people with mental and physical disabilities were involved in The Creative Edge’s goal of increasing community involvement in filmmaking.

“We want a community where nobody is excluded,” Walcott said. “We have to find ways to bring everybody in to share in the common experience. ... We believe everybody has a story to tell.”

Walcott said he hopes to have a showcase event when the program is completed for families and friends to see some of the films.

Jessica Neely, director of family services for the Arc, said the workshops are part of the Arc’s Transformation Project, which includes different activities aimed at getting those in the day programs active in the community.

The Arc pays The Creative Edge to conduct the activities, but officials declined to provide further details about the funding of the program or the costs involved. Neely said the foundation preferred to keep its funding anonymous.

On March 8, Booher created a stop-motion film, a series of images of objects put together in sequence to create the illusion that they are moving. Booher took photos of a toy monkey going to a vending machine, inserting a quarter, getting a soda and drinking it.

Andrew Millington, a Hyattsville-based filmmaker and member of The Creative Edge, said the project allows participants to think independently about what type of films they want to create.

“When a person sees her image and sees it captured for the first time ... that does a lot for their self-esteem,” he said.