Lights, camera, action at St. Thomas

St. Thomas is offering its first filmmaking course this summer, and 15 students have jumped at the opportunity.

“I almost transferred to a different film school,” freshman Lisa Spehar said. “I saw (the course poster) when I was walking out of the caf, and so I was like, ‘Oh, I have to at least try it.’”

James Snapko, theater and film professor, is teaching the summer course. He said the class will have two major projects.

“One is going to be a short one-minute film that’s basically a ‘get your feet wet’ sort of film project,” Snapko said. “The second project is going to be a bit of a longer piece. … They go through the entire process that typical filmmakers do to make a movie and tell a story.”

Senior Alex Sime said he is a bit nervous for the in-class short films they will be producing.

“I think the most challenging thing is making a seven-minute short and shooting it and cutting it,” Sire said. “Having no experiences is a little scary.”

Though it will be challenging, Spehar said she sees the course as a hands-on opportunity.

“I want to learn as much as I can,” Spehar said.

To encourage student engagement and to enhance the learning process, Snapko said he encourages a collaborative learning environment.

“The idea is to get them thinking like filmmakers, to make films and know what it feels like to have an audience critique it,” Snapko said.

Snapko also shows his original work to his students, something Sime enjoys.

“I don’t think in a lot of other classes you get someone who is actually doing it,” Sime said.

Spehar said she is looking forward to seeing the class work together to complete both projects.

“I’m really excited to see how all that work will play out in the end,” Spehar said.

Katherine Curtis can be reached at