Silver screened artists embrace talent, potential


Adam Schoelz

The movies. For more than 80 years they have represented an essential part of American culture.  The crunch of popcorn, the dark theater, the classic films and the stories, all represent a unique experience shared by nearly everyone in America.
A true cultural hallmark, movies have held a mirror up to American society, reflecting lives intimately familiar and lives completely foreign.
Beyond the mirror lies an uncertain place called Hollywood-land, a place most people preferred to avoid — to better preserve the dream of the story and leave it untainted by real life.
But there are always others, those who would prefer to journey through that looking-glass.
One student going down the rabbit hole is senior Cooper Bloom, a kid who grew up with a John Wayne dad and family movie nights every week.  Entranced by the stories told in classics such as “Stagecoach” and “The Sons of Katie Elder,” Bloom always knew movies were something special.
“I thought [a movie] was the coolest thing; it was like a window into a past that you can’t really experience anymore because you can’t go dance with, well, insert great dancer name, and you can’t see Frank Sinatra sing, and it’s really amazing,” Bloom said. “We watched a lot of westerns; I just started watching really good movies when I was younger.”
Today Bloom is exploring those movies through classes such as Music and Film Analysis, breaking down movies like an old car for spare parts.   In his College English course at the Columbia Area Career Center, Bloom writes his scripts.  And in Digital Video and Motion Graphics class, Bloom creates and edits his own movies. To make it, one must understand it. Bloom is determined to do both.
“It’s just been a really cool experience for me, because that’s really what I want to do when I grow up — shoot my own movies, edit my own movies — not write my own movies. But I want to have a hand on every level of the production of making movies, and it’s just really been an experience for me,” Bloom said. Music and Film Analysis  “class is really helpful, because it broke down movies from a different viewpoint than my class I’m taking at the career center.”
Bloom isn’t the only one writing, shooting and editing at RBHS.  Senior Justin Smith has been making movies for a long time — though he admits his early efforts in ninth grade were definitely sub-par.  Through making three short films and continuing work on a documentary, Smith has discovered one aspect of filmmaking that, for him, stands above the rest.
“It really is storytelling,” Smith said. “I love films such as ‘The Illusionist’ and ‘V For Vendetta,’ and really things that can compel you and make you think on screen.  I’m not a big fan of pointless action movies; I love them, but I really hate them at the same time.”
Smith has few illusions about the film industry. His plan is to start low, in the electrical or lighting area and work his way toward the top. He does know, however, where he wants to end up.
“During Digital Video [class] we had to shoot a short film, and it was called ‘Birthmark’ and we had to shoot in Arrow Rock.  I was cinematographer for camera one,” Smith said. “It was quite the experience because I got to do a lot of directing.”
Like his western heroes, Bloom doesn’t have a clear idea of where he’ll go next.  But what he does know is important:  he loves watching movies, and he loves making movies.  And he’s happy to see how far he can go with that.
“It’s a journey of discovery. I don’t know how far I’ll go, and I’m OK at it, but I’m not fantastic, and this is the first movie that I’ve ever make,” Bloom said. “It’s kind of an adventure, that’s what makes it so exciting.”
By Adam Schoelz