Award-winning documentary filmmaker Aaron Woolf visited Olney Friends School last week for the second time in six months. He spent 48 hours filming all aspects of student life inside and outside the classroom at the international boarding and day high school.
The footage will be incorporated into a short video for students and families interested in admission to the school.
Woolf also met with a student filmmaking class. He instructed students on how to tell a story, how to document the scene and how to conduct interviews that audiences will care about. Student filmmakers put Woolf's movie-making tips into practice right away, filming fellow high school students who planted 250 trees in Plummer Woods on the Olney Friends School campus on Saturday, April 23.
"Students and teachers planted red and white oak trees on Earth Day," said Olney Friends School farmer Don Guindon. "We timbered the area three years ago, and now it was time to replant."
Three students filmed while another 18 planted trees. "Filming was pretty fun. The hardest part was catching people doing something that looked cool. A lot of the time, the young trees were so small, it just looked like people were sticking twigs in the ground," said sophomore Rosie Glass of Bethesda.
Junior You Li of Shenzhen, Guandong, China said, "it was just a small filmmaking class [with Aaron Woolf], but we learned a lot of different skills." He described how he and fellow students took Woolf's advice to begin with a wide, opening shot of tree planting - showing everyone working. "The effect was very good," he said.
Woolf last visited Barnesville in October, for the Olney Friends School summit. His talk, titled, "Where's My #*&! Jetpack? The World They Promised Us and the World We Want to Create," focused on the future as it appeared in the past versus how it appears now - and the role of individuals and organizations in creating change. The talk is available on the Olney Friends School Web site.
Woolf is the director and producer of the critically acclaimed film, "King Corn," his sixth feature documentary, for which he was awarded a 2008 George Foster Peabody Award. His work has been released theatrically in the US, Europe, and Japan and broadcast on PBS, the Sundance Channel, and numerous international networks.
In 2000, Woolf directed "Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball, and the United States," a WNET-ITVS co-production that received a Banff Rockie Award. In 2003, he directed "Dying to Leave: The Global Face of Human Trafficking and Smuggling," which won an Australian Emmy Logie Award for best documentary series, aired as a two-hour special on the PBS series Wide Angle, and has been screened at the State Department and the United Nations. Woolf has presented work and spoken at numerous institutions including Stanford University, Yale, UCLA, the CDC, and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
He is the founder of Mosaic Films Incorporated and has recently completed a new film, "Beyond the Motor City," which focuses on Detroit, and aired on PBS in February 2010. The film was part of the Blueprint America series on American infrastructure. In May and June of 2010, Woolf toured the country, speaking about the future of America's transportation infrastructure supported by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. In 2007 he opened Urban Rustic, a Brooklyn, NY grocery specializing in locally sourced and organic foods. He divides his time between New York City and Elizabethtown, N.Y.
The school first came to Woolf's attention through his acquaintance with Olney humanities teacher Abby Chew. During his talk at the summit, Woolf said of Olney, "If the world could see what I saw here, they would be heartened, and you would be an example for all of us." He went on to ask the audience to consider his talk an "audition" to make a movie about the school.
Olney Friends School, a boarding and day high school located in Barnesville, Ohio, brings students from around the state, around the country, and around the world to study in a college preparatory program in grades 9-12. The academic program focuses on humanities, the arts, and the sciences.
Student filmmakers at Olney Friends School tried out new skills while filming fellow high schoolers planting 250 oak trees on Earth Day. Here, sophomore Alina Suresh of Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia prepares the ground for a seedling.
Camera operator Derek Hallquist of Green River Pictures films freshman Samie Cox of Erie, Pennsylvania during the Olney Friends School poetry slam. The school hosted a film crew making a short movie about Olney.