The Immigrant Garden Student Film
The Immigrant Garden student movie was the outgrowth of media-literacy classes mentored by C. Tad Devlin. It all started in 1998 as a continuing education media-literacy class project at Centralia, College, located in rural Lewis County, WA where lack of work and poor economy force many young people into depression and dispair. Mr. Devlin, and his wife Diana decided to do something positive to help young people find hope. Thus began Northwest Film Projects, Inc.
The purpose of first $42 classes in 1999 ( held in two hour lectures twice a week for eight weeks), was to teach young people how to utilize emerging media, Internet, and web technologies in ways that would create markatable job skills and confidence in the students The mentoring program, open to all interested, allowed poorer students to attend the classes for free. For the next six months NFP helped students make free promotional films for non-proficts like the United Way, the library, the local hospital, and child care centers. the built a website, learned sound editing, Photoshop, and writing As the students emotional security grew, so did their filmmaking skills.
After nine months of producing short films in the area and a demo reel to present their talents to community access televisionn, the students decided to make a no budget movie using off the shelf digital consumer camera, a PC, with lights and grip gear found off the shelf of a local hardware store. From this humble start, the NFP media literacy program eventually evolved into a community project involving more than 350 local people who had never worked on a movie before.
Local film company serves as training ground – The Chronicle July 27, 2000
By Mai Ling Slaughter
Seven months ago, Jamie Kline had just graduated from Centralia College and was looking for an experience to guide her into her new path in life. The Centralia resident didn’t have to look far. She heard that C. Tad Devlin, owner on Chehalis’ Northwest Film Projects, was on the search for young talent with an interest in films. “I’ve always wanted to edit” Kline said. “It was perfect timing.”
Since then, she has joined nine other young employees and a hand full of volunteers at Northwest Film Projects, as they create short films and “freebies” for local government organizations, as well as documentaries and other full-length productions, such as “The Immigrant Garden.”This week, employees are focusing on completing a video for United Way of Lewis County, which they taped last week with the help of volunteers the not-for-profit agency provided.
The whole theme of the video is: who needs the united way” said Debbie Cambell, the agency’s executive director. “And the answer is…you do, because you never know when you might need it.”Since then, she has joined nine other young employees and a hand full of volunteers at Northwest Film Projects, as they create short films and “freebies” for local government organizations, as well as documentaries and other full-length productions, such as “The Immigrant Garden.”This week, employees are focusing on completing a video for United Way of Lewis County, which they taped last week with the help of volunteers the not-for-profit agency provided.
The whole theme of the video is: who needs the united way” said Debbie Cambell, the agency’s executive director. “And the answer is…you do, because you never know when you might need it.”
“The 8-10-minute video is intended to help United Way’s supporters under stand who their moneyis helping when they donate to the agency, which begins it’s annual fund raising campaign Sept.7. This is the first time a Lewis County production company has participated in making the film.
“For me, it’s made it better having Tad involved because he looks at it a totally different way,” Campbell said.” He offered to do this for us, and this is just an incredible gift. “Devlin, who founded Northwest Film Projects last year when he decided to produce the film, “The Immigrant Garden,” praises the work his employees do, especially considering the shoestring budget from which they’re all paid.”They’re basically working for gas money,” he said.
But Devlin admits it’s a situation he was in 20 years ago, before he worked his way into the producer’s chair for Hollywood movies such as “George of the Jungle. “Now, he teaches continuing educationclasses in editing, script writing and film production, where he met a number of current employees.”I’m trying to empower kids to tell stories,” he said, “and tell them stories that offer a vision of life.”
His new venture focuses more on rural America, and the stories it has to offer to everyone, especially teen-agers, to whom he targets his films.”We’re trying to do films that deal with teen-agers.” Devlin said. “I want to teach teenagers media literacy. So much in the media wows them.”Although only a few of his employees are teen-agers, including 15-year-old Aaron Meyer, those who work for and with Devlin still recognize they have a lot to learn from him.
“It’s worth it to me” said Diana Gaides, who drives to Chehalis twice a week from Enumclaw to work on projects .”We all want to succeed here, and (Devlin) gives us the tools we need to do it.”Employees at Northwest Film Projects have no set schedule, but many of them work more than 40 hours a week, recognizing the value of their work will have a potential future in film making.”When I’m here, the days fly by and I love it,” Kline says. “I would love to be able to make a good living at it.”