SALT LAKE CITY — Judge Memorial Catholic High School junior Nick Markham will premiere his documentary film "Dreams Defying Gravity" July 9 at 7 p.m., at the Main Library in Salt Lake City.
The film is part of Reel Stories, a film class by Spy Hop Productions, a local youth media arts organization.
"We teach teenagers technical skills in music, audio, film and design classes," said Frank Feldman, mentor and arts instructor. "In my filmmaking classes, the students spend time with the camera, working on stories, writing up treatments for their film and learn interviewing techniques. Our goal is also to help teenagers learn responsibility, respect and communication skills.
The classes produce some good films, Feldman said. "Nick’s film is about a group of theme park enthusiasts who meet online and then meet up at Lagoon. When Nick said that’s what he wanted to make his film on, I encouraged him to focus on the sense of community and the passion that these people have for this hobby of reading about roller coasters and riding them. It ended up translating from an online community to a real world community."
Markham has been interested in film since he was 3 years old, he said. "I always went to the movies with my parents and my mom has a video of me at my third birthday dressed up as a chimney sweep from the movie "Mary Poppins,"" said Markham. "I knew from then on I really liked movies. I really want to go to UCLA and get a film degree."
He will get more experience in the film industry as he enters "Dreams Defying Gravity" in film festivals following its premiere.
While researching the idea for his film, Markham found there wasn’t a documentary on theme parks.
"I’ve always known about the theme park industry and the incredibly interesting people obsessed with theme parks. I not only found a great story, but I have an interview in the film from the theme park correspondent from the New York Times, the head engineer from the Lagoon and footage from theme park enthusiasts from California, New York and all over the world," he said. "I chose the title because their dream is to be associated with the theme park industry in some way. These people have ridden on hundreds of roller coasters all over the world; they know the history of the park, the level of G-forces at certain points and all the ins and outs."
Markham himself has ridden 170 roller coasters.
In applying for Spy Hop, students don’t have to be experienced filmmakers, but they do have to have a good attitude and an ability to commit to and understand what they are signing up for, said Feldman.
"I hope the students find a sense of community at Spy Hop, make new friends and enjoy themselves," Feldman continued. "I have definitely seen a number of kids sign up for one of my classes because they were curious about filmmaking, not necessarily because it was their life passion, and then go on and major in film in college. I’m not really looking to make the next great filmmaker, I’m really just hoping these kids learn to make good choices and learn responsibility and communication skills."