Strutting their cinematic stuff

Students screen their works Saturday to deter drug use
M.P. Regan
Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Dressed for the occasion

Jacob Harvey heads down the red carpet in a tuxedo and matching red bow tie into Dillon’s Big Sky Cinema for the screening Saturday of entries by his fellow area students in the Second Annual Beaverhead County Red Carpet Video Project contest. M.P. Regan photo

Some young area filmmakers got to walk a literal red carpet rolled out for their grand entry into Big Sky Cinema in Dillon last week.

That stroll of honor came for their efforts to help their fellow students walk a proverbial straight line in life without detouring into the dishonorable effects of drug abuse.

“It was amazing, very exciting,” proclaimed sixth-grader Madison Sampson of walking the red carpet Saturday past camera flashes into the local movie theater, where her film with her co-producers and costars Marissah Stoddard and Tilly Kreiner gained top honors among middle schoolers in the Second Annual Beaverhead County Red Carpet Video Project contest.

“I kept leaning over and telling her we weren’t going to win, and then they called our names,” laughed Stoddard of her interactions with Sampson in the moments before Schurg read their names to the audience as the middle-school winners in the contest Schurg created as part of her work to discourage drug use in students as a board member with BetheChange406 Coalition.

“The Red Carpet Youth Video Project is a competition where we invite teams of middle schoolers and teams of high schoolers—from two to five on a team—to create a one-minute video based on the theme for Red Ribbon Week, which is in October. And Red Ribbon Week is a drug awareness week, where in all the schools they spend a week raising awareness for substance use and abuse,” explained Schurg, who also serves as local coordinator of Project Aware. “This year’s theme for Red

Ribbon Week was “Drug Free Looks Like Me” so that was the theme for the videos,” Schurg told those in attendance.

Twin sisters Co and Jo Niglio heard their names called for top honors among area high schoolers for their animated effort laying out the process and horrors of falling into drug addiction.

“We were inspired to produce a project on this subject matter by the effects of drug abuse on people, especially the youth. We wanted to create a film that demonstrated the negative impacts of addiction on an individual’s life, family, and mind,” Co Niglio told the Dillon Tribune of their stark, simple, highly effective film.

“I love the excitement and the creativity behind each of those films,” said Big Sky Cinema Manager Stan Smith at Saturday’s screenings.

“I’ve been in filmmaking for 42 years now, 43 years, and it’s always good to have a fresh view from a younger generation. Seeing if from your point of view is eye-opening,” continued Smith, who moonlights as an actor and stuntman and producer.

“There were some great entries this year—more than triple the number of entries from last year,” noted Schurg in her introductory remarks on Saturday before the world premiere of efforts that included the award-winning music video created by sixth-graders Stoddard, Sampson and Kreiner.

“We started a rap group. And then we saw there was a video project, and we were like, ‘Oh, we could go do that and make a video’,” recalled Stoddard of the genesis of their winning project, which included rapped couplets like, “Drugs are illegal, you need to know/If you do drugs, they need to go” and “After drugs, I’ll tell ya’/Wait ‘til your crush smells ya’”

“Not only do the winners for the middle school, which is a $500 prize, and for the high school, which is a $1000 prize—not only do those winners receive cash, but their videos will be seen as previews for the remainder of the year,” said Schurg of the winning efforts addition to the prefeature group of shorts that will be shown at the Dillon movie theater.

This year’s contest also attracted works by area student producers Violet Rhodes, Milee Vezina, Bailey Blake, Cameron Delaney, Winona Wagoner, Zoey Mickelson, Sophie Nelon, Luke Wendt, Kalen Martinell, Gus Huntsman, Aven Pflieger and Jordyn Martinez.

“We hope that this thing,” said Schurg, “just keeps growing and growing.”