by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor
Rogers City High School (RCHS) senior DyShauna Rutherford added another trophy to her filmmaking mantle. She took the grand prize for best film at the 14th Annual Teen Filmmaker Festival, held at Chenery Auditorium in Kalamazoo. The competition featured the best teen-produced and directed films from this year’s competition. Films were produced by teens, ages 12-19, who reside in the state of Michigan. Three expert judges awarded prizes for best film, best experimental film, best music video, best short film (under three minutes), best technical merit, best cinematic merit and judges’ choice.
Her 5:33 minute film, titled “The Invisible Abductor” is an autobiographical work focusing on the perils of mental illness. The film is heavy on story content while light on special effects, a plan that Rutherford used to perfection to produce her winning film.
“When I was younger, probably about 13, making videos was a way to cope with some of my own mental issues and it was very important to me to create stories that other people enjoyed and that reflected my personality. I chose this topic because it is important not only to my family, but to people throughout the world,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford said the movie-making process was therapeutic for herself and her family, giving a sort of closure to a tragic family situation.
SHE CLEVERLY used cardboard cutouts for transitions and illustrations to highlight ideas.
“I didn’t use many fancy transitions because I wanted the attention to go to the story and not to the video,” she said.
The video took about three days to produce, she said, investing about 14 hours of time into the movie.
She is considering entering other film contests in Michigan, but is uncertain about her plans for the fall.
“I am just figuring it out as I go,” she said about future plans.
She is a student in Ben Witter’s computer broadcasting class at RCHS. Camryn Bullock, another a senior in the class, also had a film entered in the competition. The title of Bullock’s entry was “You Don’t Know.”
Rutherford had high praise for the computer broadcasting class and for her teacher.
“I love this class so much. I am originally an artist. I draw, that is my favorite thing to do. So coming into a high school with no art class was a real bummer. Then my senior year comes along and I find out that I have this class and everybody around me said it was awful and video making was the worst. But that is one of my favorite things to do! I love the people in here and the teacher. It is like a little home. It is so nice,” she said.
WITTER, WHO has taught computer broadcasting since the program’s inception in 2012, said he is proud of the students who used their creativity to produce the films.
“I am super proud of them. The great thing about this class is it is all about creativity but it is on different mediums. We use photos, videos and graphics. It is one of the few classes like this in the state. Actually in northern Michigan this is one of the premiere programs,” Witter said.
The Mac-lab is equipped with 25 computers with the latest operating system and cutting-edge video editing software such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro. Funding for the computers came from sale of lumber on school property, Witter said, but no additional funds were allocated for updates. So Witter has applied for grants, local donations and the class has done work for area businesses and organizations.
The class is also negotiating with the City Council to video the meetings and possibly administer the city’s public access channel.
In addition, the class and teacher will get more recognition on the state level this weekend. Witter is honored to be selected as a presenter at the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Technology conference at Cobo Hall in Detroit. It is an annual conference that focuses on integrating technologies into the classroom.
“My presentation is titled ‘Using Videos to Create Community Interest and Involvement’ and I’m going to speak about the class and the videos we make in the class and how I involve the community, like making commercials for Calcite, the 40-Mile Point Lighthouse, City Council, the Grambau Center movies and the Christmas Lip Dub of course. I’m pretty excited about it,” Witter said.
Rutherford’s video may be viewed at