The Chatham Film Club Creates After School Filmmaking Project for Columbia County Middle School Students

March 24, 2014

The Chatham Film Club has created a real-life filmmaking experience for area middle school students. Sponsored by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, the Columbia Arts and Humanities Project and the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation, after school filmmaking workshops led by Patrick Toole at the Chatham Middle School and Walter B. Howard Elementary School in New Lebanon and Isabel Barton at Hudson Junior High School started the first week of March and will meet each week through mid-April.

Working with seasoned local filmmakers, 6-15 students in each school brainstorm a story, choose their role on set (in front of and behind the camera) and work together after school over six weeks to produce their own short film. New Lebanon students, with filmmaker Patrick Toole and teacher liaison Jason Breslin, are shooting a mystery: why are students disappearing one by one from the classroom? Chatham students, also working with filmmaker Patrick Toole and teacher liaisons Michele Debye-Saxinger and Cecilia Hetterich, are creating a film about a support group for stereotypes. Hudson students, with filmmaker teacher Isabel Barton and teacher liaison Lynn Dykeman, are making the film version of an essay written by a Hudson student, about a new girl trying to fit in at school.

Film Club Board member and FilmColumbia Festival Director Calliope Nicholas comments, “It’s an exciting opportunity for middle school students to work with professional filmmakers to create a film. Students learn all the aspects of filmmaking, coordinating their efforts as a team and knowing that their final work will be shown to the community at the Crandell Theatre.”

The After School Filmmaking Project will culminate in a screening of the three finished short films. The community is invited to join young Columbia County filmmakers and their teachers and families for the free premiere May 4, 1pm, at the Crandell Theatre, 48 Main Street in Chatham, NY. For more information, visit

The Chatham Film Club is the nonprofit, member-supported organization that owns and operates the historic Crandell Theatre and sponsors the FilmColumbia Festival, October 22-26, 2014.