Iowa City Kids Create First Class Film

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Students and staff at an Iowa City elementary school spent more than eight months making a film.

The film is called "Stand Up Tall." The story follows a pint-sized protagonist, and focuses on facing fears and finding friends. It's admirable in an era of anti-bullying, even if it was unintentional.

It was all art teacher Mark Jones' idea. "Since I started teaching I always wanted to do animation. I have no background in it. It's a very precise process and the classroom is kind of a chaotic area, especially an art classroom," said Mark. "We didn't set out to create a direct tie-in to that kind of thing. But, we see it, and it's very obvious that it's there."

It took a lot of work. More than eight months, in fact. Jones had K-6 kids from Lemme and Mann piece the piece together. They wrote the story, the song, created the characters, set, and did the stop motion animation.

"You get maybe a tenth of a second done in a day," said Mark.
It all sounded like a lot of work to students, who had hesitations.

"Like, at first it was like, 'What? This doesn't sound easy'," said Jayda Perkins, a 6th grader at Mann Elementary.

But feelings changed, fast. "You had every person in the class do it. You'd just move it. He'd take a picture. Then, the next person would do it," said Kate Murray, another 6th grader at Mann.

In fact, for some, the work became second nature.

"I had kindergartners coaching each other on how to ease things in and out of motion. Very complex processes they were helping each other with," said Mark.

Kids learned the ins and outs film making, but also took the short movie's message to heart.

"Go help your friends and things will turn out fine," said April Wilson, a 6th grader at Lemme Elementary.

"Stand Up Tall" isn't the first film Mark has done with his students. Last year, they created the "Robot and the Butterfly" another stop motion movie, almost double in length.

Pretty darn good. But, would you believe it was made by Iowa City elementary students?

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