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Aspiring filmmakers produce works at summer workshop

SANTA FE, N.M. - On July 27, an audience of mostly American Indian moviegoers gathered in the auditorium at the Institute of American Indian Arts to screen a number of short films written, directed and created by young Native filmmakers as part of the fourth annual Summer Television and Film Workshop. Eight short films were screened on stories whose genres ranged from a Western to a futuristic sci-fi world. Comedies and dramas, as well as period pieces, were created by this year's filmmakers.

''I was really impressed with the talent and the stories created this summer,'' said Ish Antar, Gros Ventre and an audience member, former student and actor in one of the evening's shorts.

IAIA, in collaboration with Disney-ABC Television Group Talent Development Programs and the Walt Disney Studio, presented the six-week workshop.

The 2007 summer workshop program offered two tracks: the filmmaking/production track, which focused on directing, screenwriting, production and acting; and the writer's track, a new addition to this year's program, in which the students focused on writing television spec scripts. A ''spec script'' is a standard industry writing sample based on a television show currently being aired on a broadcast or cable network.

The program began June 18 and ended with the July 27 screening.

In that time, students in the filmmaking track wrote, shot and edited their projects - in effect, creating a small production team whose members worked together to create the short films.

Zachary Heim, 18, Kiowa, worked tirelessly on the film that he wrote and directed. ''I could not have done it without my awesome cast and crew,'' he said. ''A lot of people came together to get this film made.''

The summer program curriculum included workshops and lectures by film and TV professionals. Nine students were enrolled in the filmmaking track, and 10 writers came to New Mexico for the writing program.

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The writing track students wrote spec scripts for various shows such as ''Grey's Anatomy,'' ''My Name is Earl'' and ''Without a Trace.''

The writing track participants met daily as a group and acted as staff writers in a television show ''writer's room.'' The students wrote first drafts of their television specs, which were read and critiqued by their fellow writers.

Tvli Jacob, Choctaw, who wrote a spec for ''The Office,'' enjoyed the writers' room experience. ''It was great to create a script, and then hear it read out loud. I got great feedback from a room of talented writers,'' Jacob said.

Ramus Suina, Cochiti Pueblo and IAIA tribal relations specialist, spoke at the screening and closing ceremony. ''It is our hope,'' Suina said, ''that students who come through our program or take one of our workshops will be able to compete with the best of the best.''

Jeana Francis, a returning student from last year's program, continued to work on a film she started during last summer's workshop.

''I finished the principal photography for the film last summer and I've been editing and working on the special effects all year,'' Francis said. ''It has been a long journey.''

And all that work paid off, as Francis' film, ''Future Warrior,'' stood out as one of the evening's most interesting and visually stunning films.

Beverly Morris, Aleut and director of the workshop, has facilitated the program for the last four years. ''Any accolades I hear about the program is due entirely to the quality of the students we attract each year,'' she said. ''We have attracted some very talented individuals.''

For more information on the workshop, visit