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Using the library to find new interests and talents

September 9, 2011

by Jennifer Zemke

JenniferZIn elementary school, I went through a short, in-school writing program in which we, the selected students, planned and wrote our very own short stories, which were to be compiled into an anthology. At our final meeting, our teacher called us up one by one, alphabetically, gave us each a copy of the anthology and sent us on our way back to class. I was the last one to go, and I was quite concerned when the teacher held my copy of the anthology hostage in order to talk to me, because I had handed in my story disgracefully long past the deadline and I was still embarrassed about it. Already nervous, I entered a state of extreme panic when the teacher admitted that he’d thought I’d copied the story from somewhere else.

However, he assured me that he no longer thought I was a plagiarist, and had some wonderful things to say about my writing. I was ecstatic. I’d already been convinced that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and here was an official grown-up telling me that my writing was amazing. My destiny had practically been fulfilled.

I have always loved reading and writing, and because my parents encouraged these activities over wasting away in front of the TV, I had little interest in, or respect for, movies and television. So, when I discovered that the library was having a short film contest, I thought “Pfft, I could win that.” They were even offering money as a prize. It felt like someone was offering me cash on a golden platter. I enlisted the help of my friends and a still camera, and, without nearly enough planning, set out to create a 10-minute movie over the course of one Spring Break.

It wasn’t the end of the world. It was worse. It was up until that point the hardest I’d ever worked in my entire life. Undoubtedly a little more planning would have saved me some grief and a lot of time, but I learned that far too late. During the course of shooting and editing, anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Several times the camera refused to cooperate, people showed up late, it was too cold and too windy, for some reason we were hungry all the time, and the number of bloopers was inevitably a dozen times greater than that of useable footage.
Despite the process having its fair share of exhausting, grueling, and emotionally draining experiences, I realized that, given the choice, I would pick the movie-making over a relaxing Spring Break any day. I had initially entered the contest for the prospect of money, but I came out realizing that this was something else that captured my interest just as intensely as writing did. It didn’t matter that I didn’t win first place, or that the movie’s sound quality was akin to radio static. It was just fun, and the fact that we had even finished making it was worth the package of frustrating things that came with it. Had the opportunity not presented itself, I doubt I would have considered making movies except for school projects. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me that I might enjoy it just as much as writing. As it is, I plan on studying writing and film when I go to college and hopefully will be able to have a career in both.


If it weren’t for the library, Jennifer may have never realized her interest or talent in the art of  film making. How has the library inspired you?

Jennifer’s video can be found on YouTube.

Good luck with your writing and film making career, Jennifier!

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