Students from Plotline Film & Media Education film a scene at a recent class session. Plotline will show off student films at its 7th annual Student Film Showcase May 21 at Alamo Drafthouse. (Photo: Plotline)

Young filmmakers take over the biggest screen at Alamo Drafthouse May 21 to show off their creations at the 7th annual Plotline Film & Media Education Student Film Showcase.

Films start at 5:30 p.m. at Alamo (4005 South Ave.). Awards will follow and, at 7 p.m., a classic feature film will be screened.

“It’s an opportunity for us to screen our student films from the past year,” said Jim Bultas, executive director of Plotline. “We show them on the largest screen at Alamo, then we have filmmaker awards and we’ll screen a classic feature film.”

The fun starts before the screening, though.

“We’ll have a red carpet, a step-and-repeat and a photographer there,” Bultas said. “We really try to make it a special event for the filmmakers. We make them feel like VIPs.”

Plotline is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching people how to tell stories through film and media.

“We teach people how to make movies,” Bultas said. “Our mission is to educate and empower aspiring film and media creators, through classes, camps, community engagement events and scholarships.” 

The filmmakers for this festival are all between the ages of 10 and 18, participating in Plotline’s teens and tweens classes, as well as summer camps and other programs.

“Our classes and camps are structured so that if they’re beginners, intermediate or even advanced students that we have a place for them in our program,” Bultas said. “It’s very much a team-building experience.”

Students start learning the basics, both behind the camera and in front of it. Then they move on to creating their short films, following a three-act format. From there they move on to creating their short films.

“We don’t go into that with any preconceived notions on what this film is going to be,” Bultas said. “We have a big brainstorming session, then they vote on their favorite idea. The students each write a few scenes, then we put them together and get to shooting. Then we edit and finalize these original films.”

Not everyone who participates in Plotline’s camps and classes will go on to work in film or media, but Bultas believes the skills students learn will serve them well no matter what career field they choose.

“It’s fun, it’s interesting and uses a lot of creative problem-solving,” he said. “And whether or not they chose to pursue a career in film or media production I strongly believe that the type of skills they develop in our program are absolutely applicable to professions that use creative problem-solving, tech and written word literacy.”

And there’s another important skill they learn: storytelling.

“Humans need to continue to tell stories,” Bultas said. “We connect over stories, we can convince people of our points and what’s important to us. When we whittle all the way down to the barest essentials of what we are, we want to tell stories and continue that tradition and we also want them to have the ability to move with whatever tech is going to be there and creatively problem-solve their life into what they want it to be.”

Tickets for the 7th annual Plotline Film & Media Education Student Film Showcase are $12.50 each and are available for purchase online. For more information about Plotline, visit its website or Facebook page.

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger is the Reader Engagement Editor for the Springfield Daily Citizen, and the voice of its daily newsletter SGF A.M. He covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger