The Belton Journal

Youths from local cities premiered their practical movie-making skills on the big screen at the Beltonian Theatre in Belton on Friday night.
The hands-on, summer Youth Film Camp began as an idea from Zechariah and Sara Baker, owners of the Beltonian Theatre, to share their passion for the arts and education in Central Texas.
The annual youth film camp started five years ago, to offer kids between 10 and 17 years old a way to learn how they can make short films, just by using their iPhones and iPads. Students watch one movie a day and then discuss the film and review what they saw with the instructors.
The week-long film camp, from Jun.27-July 1, from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., gave youth the chance to write a script, direct, shoot and edit in a hands-on environment under the supervision of experienced instructors.
Richard Tolleson has 19 years of experience in television reporting and producing. Tolleson has a longtime friendship with Baker and for five years, Tolleson has been sharing his experience helping the kids learn basic filmmaking techniques.
This year the class had 45 students, up from a record high of 39 students last year.
Under adult supervision they explored areas in Downton Belton looking for areas to film.
Each day, the class started with a movie to help the kids learn to think like a filmmaker. They formed into groups of four to six kids. As a group, they worked together to develop a script, how to storyboard it and then decided who would be the scriptwriter, the cameraman, the actors and the director for their short film.
Tolleson pointed out examples of how you can get lost in the story when you’re watching it, and the basic fundamentals of filming a movie. As they worked on their short film, they learned to think about the angles, the close up and distance shots, and how much time they might want to spend on one scene.
The students came up with titles and plots like “Elevator Shenanigans”.
The plot was supposed to answer — what famous person you would want to get stuck in an elevator with?
Another film, “Sherlock Hams2, The Butcher Breakout” is a spinoff from a movie the group did last year. In that movie, the butcher got put in jail. In the movie this year, they help the butcher escape and end up having a fight with him in a field.
At the end of the day, the kids viewed the “Forgotten Disney Classics” This year the kids screened 11 short films from the nine groups that were formed and most groups finished early and formed new groups. They had time to make more movies, but those weren’t screened due to timing. The parents will get a DVD of all the movies, including the extra ones that weren’t screened. Baker said they really trust the kids to do their work and to know what they’re doing and were just there if they needed help with the project.
As an incentive for the kids to continue making films throughout the year, Baker is offering a 50 percent of the tuition for next year. The students will vote on the best film.
The Beltonian Theatre is located at 219 E. Central Ave, Belton. For information about activités at the Beltonian Theatre, you can go to, or call them at (254) 831-3161