Feature film making ending at DHS

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Dearborn High School students Amanda Miotke (left), Elizabeth Washington, Tarik Dobbs and Alexis Sanborn discuss their feature film “Spread Thin” prior to its premiere at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center April 30.

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Dearborn High School students Amanda Miotke (left), Elizabeth Washington, Tarik Dobbs and Alexis Sanborn discuss their feature film “Spread Thin” prior to its premiere at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center April 30.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Dearborn High School students crowded the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center lobby April 30 in anticipation of the premiere of their feature films.

The full-length feature films will be the last for the foreseeable future for the award-winning video program WDHS. The program will begin focusing on short films, Video Instructor Kurt Doelle said.

The debuts of the student-produced films “Spread Thin,” “Floke” and “Insanity” marked the end of feature film making at DHS.

“‘Insanity’ is our most daring horror work to date,” Doelle said in a press release. “‘Floke’ is a comical look into the manufacturing and marketing of energy drinks and ‘Spread Thin’ is a mockumentary with a big twist, featuring the fictitious Forest Hills High School and its conniving Principal Brooks.”

“Spread Thin” was the first WDHS production to be completely filmed in the city of Dearborn. The movie was shot at many different locations including city government buildings, the Ford Center, homes of several cast members and the former Howe Elementary School.

Students shared stories about their different experience creating their films and excitement about the premiere.

“Spread Thin” Director Tarik Dobbs talked about his role creating the film.

“I really enjoyed making this film because we had a great team and an exiting script,” he said. “We got to shoot the whole movie all over Dearborn, which was really cool.”

Alexis Sanborn, star of “Spread Thin” explained her experience making the movie.

“I loved the story of the film and my co-stars,” she said. “There were some challenges along the way but it was worth it when I saw the finished product.”
“Insanity” Director Peter Behm has a special connection to the film he helped direct.

“I was drawn to ‘Insanity’ because of the thriller aspect,” he said. “I like watching those types of movies so it was exciting to be apart of making one.”

WDHS has produced full length feature films to present to the community since students first requested the opportunity in 1999.

Students in the video production program have created award winning videos and received scholarships to some of the top film and television schools in the country.

Studio class students commit time and energy to writing, shooting, casting, editing and promoting the films. Most of the filming is done after school and on weekends.

The program depends on collaboration between the students, parents, businesses and the community to produce the movies.

Students begin production in the summer by writing scripts, selecting directors, cinematographers, lighting directors, editors, actors, sound technicians and other positions needed to complete their projects.

“We decided to end making feature films because logistically it was a nightmare,” Doelle said. “We have to start in the August and it takes a lot of time from the student’s schedules.”

Starting next year, the WDHS program will experiment with different styles of film making.

“The students will focus more on shorter length films in the three- to five-minute range,” Doelle said. “There was a mixed reaction from students. Some were bummed and others were happy to have less stress on them.”

For Doelle, the future still holds the same goals in addition with new ones for the students and video program.

“I want to get more students involved in different roles so they have that diversity,” he said. “We will still be entering contests and hopefully getting scholarships for students.”

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at znajm@bewickpublications.com.)

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