MIDDLESEX COUNTY — Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools students have begun a documentary film as part of the upcoming celebration of the district’s 100th anniversary.
The film will debut next year, when the nation’s first county vocational school district will mark its centennial.
The project itself is an indication of the progress career and technical education has made in 100 years. Led by faculty member and seasoned director and screenwriter Elisha Miranda and her company, Chica Sol Films, digital film students in the School of the Arts on the MCVTS East Brunswick campus are assisting in documenting the history of the district using the theme of doors opening to college and new careers.
“This is going to be a comprehensive look at how far career and technical education has come,” Miranda said, “what doors have been opened.”
Miranda spent the summer going through boxes of archival material gathered from the district’s five campuses. Miranda’s company and her students have begun photographing documents and newspaper clippings, and interviewing past and current district administrators, teachers and students.
Last school year, Miranda and Chica Sol Films guided students in the production of a documentary to celebrate the selection of the MCVTS Perth Amboy Campus as a National Blue Ribbon School.
“The kids work under professionals,” Miranda said. “They’re apprentices.”
Miranda has brought in members of her company who have been in the film industry for more than 15 years to serve as lead producers, cinematographers and industry experts to mentor her students.
She said some of the students – especially the seniors who have been in the digital film program all three years of its existence – are ready to handle some of the filmmaking chores, such as taking still photos and working on the sound.
The students also will be involved in a 12- to 15-day shooting schedule over the school year and in the editing process. The film is expected to make its debut next September as the district kicks off a series of centennial events.
Among the digital film students who will be working on the project are several who took part in professional internships over the summer break.
Senior Samantha Gavina of Parlin was the first New Jersey student accepted as a fellow of the Tribeca Film Institute in Manhattan, founded by actor Robert DeNiro, and also was selected to attend the Toronto Film Festival. Each year, Digital Film seniors are required to organize a showcase that serves as a thesis project.
Gavina’s film, “Wait and See,” which she is developing with Miranda, deals with the psychology of four students who are stuck in a room while the school is being attacked. It will premiere on Feb. 27 and 28 in the school auditorium, along with the films of her fellow seniors.
Two other seniors, Tia White of North Brunswick and Jacalyn Russ of Edison, interned as editors this summer for a company that produces digital and television content.
Russ and juniors Korrine Caceres and Nafis Barnes, both of Perth Amboy, are working with the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick to produce a promotional video with younger students while honing their acting and directing skills.
“These are real-life career opportunities that reinforce what I’m saying the classroom,” Miranda said.
The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge.
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