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Marc Calderwood, Coordinator of Bernalillo High School’s Computer Clubhouse
(PHOTO CREDIT: Margaret M. Nava)

Computer Clubhouse’s mission statement and building

The 900 Set Project

—Margaret M. Nava

According to the New Mexico Film Office filmography records, since Thomas Alva Edison’s fifty-second, black-and-white, silent production of Indian Day School in 1898, no fewer than 625 movies, documentaries and television episodes have been filmed in New Mexico. And why not? New Mexico has an almost limitless supply of scenery and landscapes, bountiful sunshine and beautiful blue skies, generous incentives and a ready supply of highly skilled crew, cast and production members, many of which are graduates of UNM’s Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media Program and Bernalillo High School’s Computer Clubhouse.

Part of the international community of 100 Computer Clubhouses located in twenty different countries around the world, the Computer Clubhouse provides a creative and safe out-of-school learning environment where young people work with adult mentors to explore their own ideas, develop skills, and build confidence through the use of technology. Marc Calderwood, coordinator of the Bernalillo High School’s Computer Clubhouse said, “We have computers donated by Intel and Mac and we have film equipment that we bought through grants we’ve received over the years. Kids come here and work in all sorts of media processes. They work in film or develop spectacular animations like those in Avatar or any one of DreamWorks’ highly successful movies. Some of our software programs are pretty advanced but iLite and iMovie make it easy for the kids to get in and make a film. Once they learn the basics, it clears the decks for them to move on to programs that are more complicated. Everything they learn here helps them when they go on to CNM or UNM.”

Since 2004, film production in New Mexico has jumped nearly tenfold. Through the efforts of Calderwood and BHS film department teacher, Chris Gonzales, the school’s film program has grown, producing more than 25 films in the last three years.

Last summer, the school started using an empty building located across from the school’s newly renovated athletic field to store an assortment of desks, tables, and just about anything else that needed storing. Once used as part of the Indian Education program at the high school, it was rumored that the building, simply known as the 900 Building, was haunted by two students who broke into it one night many years ago.

Whether it was the notion that the building was haunted or the fact that the film students needed an on-campus set space for their films, Gonzales and Calderwood decided to rehab the old house as a student project for filming. With the approval of Superintendent Alan Tapia and Bernalillo High School Principal Keith Cowan, they enlisted the help of the school’s Shop Department, the Art Departments and the students in the film and drama classes. Tables and chairs were moved out and an ambitious make-over plan was put into effect. But much more is needed.

 “The film class, the drama club and the shop and welding classes are all pitching in to turn this house into a place where students can make real-to-life stories on film,” says Calderwood, “and this is a great project for them to be involved in but we need paint and some building materials like new mirrors, replacement windows and a door here and there.”

Once the old house has had its make-over and a bit of spit’n polish, it’ll need its final transformation into sets. Gonzales is excited about the prospects. “Already, someone has donated kitchen cabinets and we’ve got someone who will give us a used couch, but we’ll need lots more and hope people will look in their garages and sheds and see what they have that we could use.”

“In this tight economy, there’s not a lot of money available for projects of this nature,” says Calderwood. “We’re doing all of this on a shoe string and relying on students and interested parties to provide help and whatever small amount of cash they can afford. Part of our plan is to name sets after supporters. You know, like if I donated enough, they might name a set after me.”

Film has become a central cast character in the New Mexico landscape and Bernalillo High School is not going to let this opportunity to slip away. “Personally, I think the ghosts will like this,” says Calderwood as he slips through the empty house. “I can only imagine they’re a bit lonely here and I bet they’ve enjoyed watching these kids get excited about making films.”

The kids at Bernalillo High School need your support. If you or your business would like take part in The 900 Set Project or just want to know more about it, contact Marc Calderwood at 505-553-5591 or email him at marccalderwood@hotmail.com.

 

 

 

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