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The Film Grease
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The Film Grease
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The Story Behind The Pic.....

The Film "Grease"


Shown in the picture, from your left to right, are Darby Arends, Terry Buckner, Michelle Price, Robin Conrad, and Gina Johnson. Students from Gilman Elementary School. The picture was staged and taken for publicizing the class' version of the motion picture "Grease", about 1979.

Scene from Sixth Grade Production of Grease

During the 1970s I taught for the Unit # 2 Schools, in the Gilman Elementary School, in Gilman, Illinois. Gilman was a small community that strongly supported its schools. I was very fortunate as the school was clearly ahead of its time in innovative teaching techniques under the leadership of several leaders such as Mr. Bob Volgrich, Superintendent, Mr. Glen Philips, Principal and especially, Mrs. Jean Feller, Director of Summer Programs. My heart grew to love the children of the community and to appreciate the talents they all could express when given the opportunity, no matter gifted, not so gifted, well to do, or not so well to do.

While teaching in the Gilman Schools one of the subjects I taught was reading. A motivation project that became a yearly tradition became the production of a motion picture. A contest would be held where students could write or suggest the movie to be made. Sometimes a student would write the script, other times the students would produce a movie loosely based upon a current motion picture production, changing the story as they wanted to tell it. The class would then hear arguments for each suggestion and vote on the script to be used to produce a motion picture.

The movie selected for the year that this picture was taken was based on and named "Grease". Some of the class members were taking dance lessons and several class members music lessons. They figured it would be a way for them to use their talents. Once the students decided on the motion picture to produce, they would form a company to produce the motion picture. Stock would be sold to pay for the expenses of the production (10 cents a share), budgets would be created and students would "try out" for the position, set designer, actor or actress that they wanted to play. Several weeks prior to the class voting on who would hold what position, actor, actress, producer, camera man, director etc. the students would all head to the library to research as much as they could about the position or part they wanted to play in the production of the film. The students would use this research to create the argument they would make to their classmates to get votes in support of their candidacy for the position desired. The class would also study the history of motion pictures and how actors communicated and how directors would produce the desired emotion from the audience. They would view some of the most important films in motion picture history, especially silent motion pictures, and discuss why they were deemed important films. The students would then incorporate what they learned into their film role or position.

The movie selected for the year that this picture

This picture is also from the class's production of their version of "Grease". The picture, set, an

These pictures are also from the class's production of their version of "Grease". The picture, set, and costumes were arranged, then photographed by students. The photograph on your right was one of several submitted and published, with a promotional story in local papers to promote the sale of tickets. Some years a class would make a profit from their shares of stock sold and the profit would be shared with the share holders.

After well over twenty years I still get calls or letters from former students asking about the motion pictures or pictures taken during film production. I received a letter from Rick Wienrank, a former Gilman Elementary student, in 2006, that requested a copy of the book "Poems From Our Hearts" and with the letter he sent a copy of the original stock certificate of the movie that he helped produce. About 1997, a group of former Gilman students from several of the film making classes asked if the films could be placed on VHS and copies made for those who would like to have them. The films were sent to Lisa Fancher, a former student who's picture appears on the cover of "Poems From Our Hearts"and who was in one of the films, who took the Super Eight films and audio cassettes and had them transfered to VHS and duplicated for a group of students.

The days of film making and the love for the children who made them often bring back pleasant memories...memories from the heart.

The technology at the time the films were produced
This picture is also from the class's production of their version of "Grease". The picture, set, an

The technology at the time the films were produced was Super Eight Film. Super Eight sound on the film was not yet available. However, students devised ideas for adding sound by recording the sound on a tape recorder after the film was shot, developed, and edited. The recording would then be synchronized and played while the motion picture was being shown during the film's premier. Producing films with students was a special activity, providing students opportunities to learn to read for understanding and content, as well as to teach children about living the life they choose... from the heart.


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