In The Schools

Mt. Hebron Broadcast Students Showcased in the Making of 'Oscar Shorts'

Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira
Credits: Cindy C. A. Pereira

MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Public Library Bellevue Avenue branch hosted “The Making of Shorts 101” by the Oscar nominated producers of “Oscar Shorts - Celebrate the Underdog”, Jeanne Reilly and Corinna Sager.

The free Sunday event was a prelude to the one-day film marathon, showcasing all the current year's Oscar nominated short films, which will take place on February 22 in Montclair. “The Making of Shorts 101 went over the process of creating a story and the intricacies of filming, editing and distributing a short film.

Approximately 60 people came out to participate in the event, which was a collaborative effort by the Montclair Public Library in partnership with Mt. Hebron Middle School’s Broadcast Studio Students.

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Broadcast Studio is an elective course at Mt. Hebron Middle School that introduces students to the creation of short movies. The course covers basic scriptwriting, camera operation and editing. The instructor, Brian Lacivita is an experienced member of the production community and the newest addition to the Mount Hebron Middle School staff.

Sager introduced the event saying, "We always wanted to expand into the community. The idea of partnering with the Montclair Library and Mt. Hebron to do this special event, was to show how films begin, and what their path is to the Oscars."

Mt. Hebron Teacher, Brian Lacivita presented some of the students’ short films. He said his class stresses working with partners, creating a community within the classroom, and learning everything from audio, to writing, to being in front of the camera.

Mark Testa, eighth grader at Mt. Hebron, spoke on behalf of the students. He said they were taught the basics of iMovie, knowledge of producing a scripted report, how to incorporate pictures and captions, and finally how to produce a hard news report.

Mt. Hebron is the Science Technology Engineering and Math magnet middle school. When asked how that fits in to this artistic endeavor, Lacivita replied, "The world is being dictated by technology and those with the power to wield it. Our program is influenced by all aspects of the STEM system; science for the difference in cameras and certain lighting types, technology for the computers for editing and creating unique projects, engineering for the tools that ease our ability to make high-quality videos and math is used to affect the timing of audio/video cues. The students learn the vital concepts and terminology so they can create projects that mimic real-world videos, utilizing every form of technology at their disposal. There is an Art in every part of STEM; however, our students use a camera instead of a paintbrush."

Patrick Schroeder, one of the showcased students said, "Mr. Lacivita’s class is fun, informative and interesting, he always finds ways to keep things exciting and to help all his students."

Sager discussed how documentaries are different than other productions.  She said, "You have an idea and start filming, but you don't really know how the story will develop until you edit it."

Sager showed a few short films to the audience. The first short shown was, Do I Have To Do Everything, a Finnish comedy about a mother who feels righteous indignation for being saddled with so many responsibilities. It’s a comedic view of familial chaos at its best.

The second film was Feral, directed by Daniel Sousa. Feral is a 2014 Academy Award nominated short film about a wild child found by a hunter, and shows how the child uses his skills to survive the new civilized environment he is thrown into. The silent movie is haunting and truly artistic. It was created with hand painted images that tell a sad story, attempting perhaps, to convey what it is that separates humans from animals, if anything.

Ferry Tales, co-produced by Sager, was the last short film shown. Ferry Tales was also an Academy Award nominated documentary short. It was set in the Staten Island Ferry bathroom. Ferry Tales was the unlikely story of a sisterhood of random passengers, many of whom did not know each other outside of their commuting time. The short film started out comedic and ended up a deeply moving account of heartwarming camaraderie. Women of all backgrounds and ethnicities, whether in the throes of divorce, single motherhood or coming out of domestic violence, were shown transforming themselves daily, through makeup, friendship, and sharing, in the powder room of a ferryboat on their way to work.

Sager took the group through her own path to nomination and showed how difficult it is for short films to get funded, or even viewed, due to their very nature. Makers of short films often have difficulty sourcing an audience, marketing, and with the overall infrastructure of the industry. Those obstacles make it particularly difficult to prosper as a short filmmaker. Hence the name Celebrate the Underdog.

For Celebrate the Underdog tickets and information, visit

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Festival will be held at Mt. Hebron Middle School on Sunday, February 22nd from 10a.m.-6p.m.

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