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Film project to address heroin epidemic

Wega Arts to host workshop for teens

Wega Arts and Helios Addiction Recovery Services are teaming up to produce a short film with students called “Heroes Rising: A New Hope.”

They will do so during a summer film workshop.

The workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, July 11 through Friday, July 15 and again from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, July 18 through Friday, July 22, at the Gerold Opera House, 136 E. Main St., Weyauwega.

There will be some variations in the schedule, depending on locations and late day or evening shoots.

Auditions are open to area students ages 15 to 18, with the roles including a quarterback, a science geek, a chess player and others.

The film is a story involving superheroes helping solve the heroin/opioid epidemic and building hope in communities.

Students will be able to focus on filmmaking, acting or both.

Auditions for both filmmakers and actors will be held from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at the Gerold Opera House; from 4-7 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at Appleton North High School (LGI-Room 1306); and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, May 22, at the Gerold Opera House.

Area students unable to make the auditions in Weyauwega may attend the Appleton North audition.

During the workshop, students will work with professional filmmakers and equipment.

There will be an administrative fee of $35, with the other costs subsidized by the sponsors.

Lunch will be provided daily for the cast and crew.

In addition to Wega Arts and Helios Addiction Recovery Services, of Neenah, the other partners in the project are Good Drugs Gone Bad and Rise Together.

The mission of Wega Arts is to generate new material in film and theater.

“We work with youth on projects that are unique to the area. This specific project will focus on narrative filmmaking,” said Kathy Fehl, of Wega Arts. “As far as we can discern, very few if any high schools in the state fully explore the steps in making a constructed film, though many work on documentary style filmmaking.”

While many high schools have video departments and may construct story lines, the filmmaking is more point and shoot than following the steps involved in feature filmmaking, including story boarding, shot design, the experience of creating a shooting schedule and getting coverage of actors (shooting each set up from several angles), she said.

Fehl said the process is creative and useful for specific media jobs.

“As much recent research has demonstrated, kids who study art are more likely to be innovative entrepreneurs than kids who do not,” she said. “The problem solving combined with analysis that is integral to the creative process is not only good for kids who want to earn their living in the arts, but for al kids.”

The students will learn to work as a team.

“The particular project we are working on this summer has a civic theme,” Fehl said.

The film, when completed, will be used as a tool to create dialogue abot the heroin epidemic in communities in Waupaca and Outagamie counties.

She said some of the actors from the film will be involved in the outreach process.

“The script involves kids morphing into superheroes, and the characters will be part of creating a systemic change, shifting the approach of youth to the world around them from passive to proactive,” Fehl said. “This will be helpful in confronting the opioid problem, and in general in becoming good citizens.”

She said, “Our partner, Helios Recovery LLC, is working with us on elements of the story line and the psychology involved in reaching kids. He (Jesse Heffernan) will be the leader on setting up follow up chat groups, etc.”

Being involved in the project will be of direct value to the students involved, in relationship to any possible drug issues, Fehl said.
They will learning a skill and about the dangers of drugs in the community, she said.

Fehl said they are reaching out to middle and high schools, as well as to churches and parks and recreation departments.

Guest speaker
Wega Arts will also join with the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters for an Academy Talk with Jennifer Uphoff Gray, artistic director and founder of Forward Theater Company.

It will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at the Gerold Opera House.

“Inside the Creative Process” will be the title of her talk about the transformative power of theater in Wisconsin communities.

It is a free event, and those planning to attended are asked to RSVP at wisconsinacademy.org/wegaarts.

The doors of the opera house will open at 6 p.m. for a reception with hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar, prior to the talk.

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