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Making Movies, from Soup to Nuts

At Adam Loften’s summertime Future Filmmakers Workshops, kids dive into each of the major elements of creating cinema.

At camps, classes, games and outings all over Mill Valley and beyond this summer, kids are learning skills that could one day inform their career choice.

But few of those camps plant the seeds that could one day lead to an Academy Award.

At Mill Valley native Adam Loften’s Future Filmmaker Workshops at the , students learn the entire process of making a film and produce a short movie of their own in just one week.

In doing so, they wear every hat possible, from actor and writer to director and producer. They scout out the best locations for specific scenes and learn to edit their film into a finished product.

“It’s a pretty draining process to make a film in five days in that pressure cooker environment,” Loften says. “It’s always amazing that it comes together. The kids rise to the occasion.”

Loften, a 31-year-old Mill Valley native who now lives in Petaluma, kicks off the first of five consecutive one-week workshops on July 18. He supplies the gear and the expertise to the workshops and the kids do the rest.

The inception of the workshops dates back a decade, when Loften helped a friend who taught a filmmaking class at in Homestead Valley. He saw how difficult it was to generate momentum in a class that lasted only an hour and a half a day, and thought he could take the idea a step further.

Loften, a filmmaker and writer who does documentary and commercial work the rest of the year, launched the Future Filmmaker Workshops in 2004. Each season has been a thrill, he says, but none more than when he and his partner Willow took the concept to Nairobi, Kenya last December to work with young students there.

Loften says most of his attendees are middle school students – old enough to have a certain level of maturity but young enough not to want to just cruise around town with their friends all day.

“They’re not too cool yet,” he says.

The films themselves tend to be fairly simple, non-violent hero journeys in a range of genres built around a three-act structure. “It’s not the best thing for a short film but it is the best process for the students to learn how to craft a story – beginning, middle, end,” he says.

Students learn more than just the technical and creative skills in making movies, he says. They also learn how to go beyond simply being consumers of media, which is what they’ve done since they were little.

“This is primarily about learning how to tell stories,” he says.

The 411: Future Filmmaker Workshops, five one-week sessions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., July 18 to Aug. 19; , 10 Old Mill St.; $585. Call 336-8823 or visit the website for more information. www.futurefilmmaker.com

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