Middle schoolers have fun using their talents

These friends, who make up the crew of WMC Productions, are having fun creating short videos that promote positive messages to their Instagram followers. Pictured from left are Makenna Reed, Tanner Plett, Ainsley Duell on the phone, Ella Suderman and Karley Loewen. Aleen Ratzlaff/Free Press
These friends, who make up the crew of WMC Productions, are having fun creating short videos that promote positive messages to their Instagram followers. Pictured from left are Makenna Reed, Tanner Plett, Ainsley Duell on the phone, Ella Suderman and Karley Loewen. Aleen Ratzlaff/Free Press

What began as helping to spread the word about a library reading contest has evolved into a team of middle schoolers who combine humor with their talents to creatively convey messages to others.

Soon-to-be eighth graders Karley Loewen, Tanner Plett, Makenna Reed and Ella Suderman, along with Ainsley Duell via phone, gathered last week to talk about the 58-second video shorts they’re producing and posting on Instagram.

“It’s kind of just for fun to promote the library and books,” Ella said about their video projects.

Three of their shorts can be viewed at @wmc_pr0ducti0ns on Instagram (O’s are zeros).

Initially, the girls said they had responded after spring break to an announcement from librarian Janet Whisenhunt at Hillsboro Middle/High School requesting volunteers to help to promote a reading contest of William Allen White books.

“A month before the deadline, this group of girls volunteered, as did others, to help make posters about the voting for their favorite William Allen White books,” Whisenhunt said.

The girls—who refer to themselves as WMC Productions—have focused on projects related to the Hillsboro Middle/High School library.

“WMC stands for Wiebe Media Center—that’s the library, and that’s our Instagram account,” Makenna said. “I guess that’s what we call ourselves.”

During school hours the girls can receive permission from their teachers to go to the library, if they’re caught up with their classwork, and work on their projects.

“The girls started with just doing regular video using my iPhone and doing different promotions,“ Whisenhunt said. “I think it’s just continued to grow.”

Here’s a screenshot from the most recent video short, “A Girl and Her Book,” produced by WMC Productions, a team of five Hillsboro Middle/High School students. Ainsley Duell said the video took about 10 hours to complete this summer.
Here’s a screenshot from the most recent video short, “A Girl and Her Book,” produced by WMC Productions, a team of five Hillsboro Middle/High School students. Ainsley Duell said the video took about 10 hours to complete this summer.
As the end of school neared, the girls created “The Overdue Book,” a brief video to remind their peers to return books to the library by the May 4 deadline. They also completed an end-of-the-school-year video that includes cameo appearances of teachers’ responses to school being out.

When the girls start on a project, they choose a plot—mostly focusing on the beginning and the end–and then spontaneously build on the narrative as they develop it. Sometimes they decide to go in one direction but then end up completely changing it.

Together the WMC Productions crew brainstorms and chooses the focus, records and edits the video, and then distributes their creative video trailers, sometimes called “shorts,” on Instagram. Also, some teachers have shown WMC Productions videos in classes.

Using the app iMovie, the girls can upload, move and trim videos. Adding music soundtracks help convey the tone or mood and using a variety of templates can make the process easier. With iMovie, photos and captions can be added as well.

“It was new technology to me and then I presented them with the ideas then it just morphed more by using the technology they’re familiar with,” Whisenhunt said about iMovie. “So I’m inspired by them and learning about new technology from them.”

Tanner said she also uses the app Videoshop for editing and adding music

Their most recent video trailer tells the story of a girl, played by Ainsley, who is so obsessed with reading a book that she ignores who friends. So her friends plot how they’re going to get back their friend’s attention.

Ainsley said this video took a week to finish, with the girls meeting about two hours a day to work on it.

The girls were quick to say they’ve learned a lot as they’ve worked together on their videos.

“Sometimes there are ideas you don’t really like but then you end of doing them and liking them, and they end up really cool,” Karley said about the importance of listening to everybody’s ideas. Possible future WMC Production projects include math and back-to-school video shorts.

The girls are finding ways to social media positively and creatively.

“Instead of using (social media) for all the negative reasons, it’s being used to promote something good for others and themselves, and it’s fun,” Whisenhunt said.