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Students explore immigrant life through film

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Cobblestone Elementary students played the roles of producers, actors, directors and writers for their film, “The Dresses Game.” Based off the book “The Hundred Dresses,” the students told the story of a young lady who emigrated to the U.S. from Russia with her mom in search of better education. The 38-minute film included interviews with immigrant families of Cobblestone students, as well as student actors portraying the roles in the film. The film was written, filmed and edited with the help of students in Movie Makers, an extracurricular group comprised of sixth-graders who meet before and after school hours at Cobblestone. Under the direction of Cobblestone teachers Cindy Smith and Sieg Mayers, the group of 17 Movie Makers students began work on the film in November and concluded with their movie premier for the entire school. The students gathered three to four hours of videotape, comprised of about 900 shots and angles before the editing began. They also formed a new respect for filmmakers after seeing how much work goes into one movie. But besides learning the ins and outs of movie making, the students also learned more and formed opinions about immigration. “Whatever the project is, you end up learning something you didn’t know before,” Smith said. Nikaela Smith played the role of Wanda, the Russian immigrant, in the film. Besides having to learn a Russian accent, she said she also learned the similarities of people from other countries. “Just because they are different, we are really the same,” Nikaela Smith said. Tommy Moore, one of the cameramen for the film, said producing the movie helped him realize how much influence immigrants have on the U.S. “Immigration had a big impact on how our society turned out,” he said. Cindy Smith agreed, adding that people from other countries bring skills and different ethnicities to the U.S. “They add so much to our country in so many ways,” she said. Cindy Smith said she encourages the differences students from other countries bring to her classroom. “We want the kids that have these strong family ties and ties to another country to be proud of it,” she said. Placer Herald’s Lauren Weber can be reached at laurenw@goldcountrymedia.com.