It’s sometimes incredible to fathom just how many people are behind one movie: you need a group to write a script, draw up storyboards, direct, act, hold the camera, do makeup...the list goes on. Casting all these roles is a familiar task to Suezean Matarazzo and Nicholle Walton-Durban, both veterans of the film industry. At Austin Film and Arts Academy, they teach elementary- through high school-aged students how to collaborate on a short movie of their own.
In the academy's main digital filmmaking course, students go from developing their ideas to shooting and lighting each scene on location. While they focus on the bigger picture, other participants refine more specialized skills, such as choreographing stunts, creating horror makeup, or keeping the crew away from craft service before lunch.
Classes stay small, so the academy's roster of instructors and guest speakers—such as casting agents and stuntmen—can grant each student personalized attention. Every session culminates in a final project, such as auditioning on camera or, in the case of digital filmmaking, receiving a DVD of your movie along with a customized poster.
An Austin staple since 1933, the bright blue exterior and the colorful rainbow letters of ZACH Theatre is visible from blocks away on South Lamar. Unlike other theaters in town, all of ZACH’s productions are developed in-house, from inception to the final curtain, making for delightfully Austin-centric shows. After entering up a staircase full of inspirational quotes, guests can grab a seat inside the Topfer Theatre, a semi-circled and elevated stage that offers room for some 420 audience members. There are two other theaters and rehearsal spaces available for shows, classes and rentals as well. Outside, the People’s Plaza and Bobbi Pavilion provide guests with space for special events; statues stand on the perimeter while an art piece of two large conch shell horns with speakers inside emits toe-tapping jazz music, making ZACH a fun, vibrant artists‘ space – both inside and out.
Austin Children's Theater's executive director, Talena Martinez, knows how to inspire kids: not only do her national credits include youth productions of Jekyll & Hyde and Les Misérables, she has also staged Shakespearean and musical pieces at the Scotland Fringe Festival. Together, Talena and her talented staff of artists nurture the natural talents of kids of all abilities who are eager to explore musical, dramatic, and European theater.
Programs—which range from the intensive Conservatory of Theater to a full roster of summer camps—can help impart a variety of skills, including increased self-esteem, a healthier body image, and stronger performance abilities of future Tony Award winners while ensuring inspirational fodder for acceptance speeches.
With full-scale plays and musical productions, kidsActing turns the spotlight on young thespians. Founder Dede Clark and her troupe of budding actors reprise kidsActing’s popular 1991 musical comedy, in which a young monster from the under-the-bed dimension stumbles into the human world. Original songs by Willie Nelson, the Austin Lounge Lizards, and other Texas performers punctuate the coming-of-age action that, unlike United Nations peace talks between Scotland and Loch Ness, ends in a reconciliation between monsters and humans.