SSHS students win video contest

Young filmmakers, school program honored in statewide competition

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— The secret to a good air guitar, according to Steamboat Springs High School senior Danny Weiss, is to "take people's focus off the guitar and onto the fashion and the surroundings, which I did gloriously."

Weiss spent a week last winter hamming it up for a camera during his remake of a music video for "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness.

Cameraman Curtis Nelson, who graduated from SSHS last year, filmed Weiss playing air guitar and lip-synching to The Darkness in ever-changing costumes and locations. Bare-chested and wearing a faux fur vest, feather boa or zebra hat, Weiss appeared "on stage" in a friend's basement, on the ski mountain and on the Top of the World (a.k.a. AprÃs Ski Way).

"People's reactions (to what I was doing) were just ridiculous," Weiss said. "You can see one guy checking me out in the background on the ski mountain."

Filming was the easy part. Next came a month of editing, as Nelson and Weiss tried to match The Darkness' audio with Weiss' lip synching.

During the process, Weiss said he heard the song hundreds of times. "It's the best rock 'n' roll song made in the last 20 years."

Once the video was complete, SSHS video production teacher Steve Moos entered it in the Colorado High School Video Awards competition. The contest was organized by teachers in Fort Collins to give students recognition for their creative work.

Winners receive a plaque and a DVD of their film.

"Teachers can send three entries per school," Moos said. Weiss and Nelson took second place in the state in the music video category.

The contest deadline was in April, but winners didn't hear the news until the first week of school.

"I told (Nelson and Weiss) that I thought they had a shot at winning," Moos said. "Music videos are tough to make. I've had a lot of students try and only one finished because it's really hard."

Moos gets a variety of students taking his video production class, he said.

"I see some kids who are not successful at other things and they come to this class and find a great outlet for their creativity," he said. "I try to teach them filmmaking and get them beyond home movies. I have to have some trust and give them some freedom."

Richard Sauer, who graduated in 2004 and was another of Moos' students, took third place in the entertainment category. Sauer is pursuing a degree in video production at the Aurora Community College.

Sauer made a film called "There's a bomb in my school." Students at SSHS participate in a drill called Lockdown Procedures, in which they simulate a crisis at the school so they know how to behave in a real situation. Sauer's film is a spoof on the SSHS lockdown procedures, Moos said.

Moos originally was uncomfortable with the subject -- a bungled school bombing -- and consulted the principal. Not only did they allow the film to be made, but assistant principal Mike Knezevich also did some acting.

"I think this film was (Sauer's) best work," Moos said. "The story line is OK, but he uses some production techniques that I thought judges in the industry would appreciate that the average audience may not notice."

Sauer used manual focusing to fade in and out of scenes. He added sound effects during the editing process.

"We have good equipment," Moos said. "But this is not easy. I'm happy to see these kids get some statewide recognition."

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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