| Jul 06, 2006

Feature Article - July 6, 2006

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Feature Article - July 6, 2006

Sydenham High filmmakers turn out to be hot shots

by JeffGreen

Nick Ryckman from Verona and Mitch Henderson from Tichborne made their mark in Alberta last week, winning second and third place prizes in their respective categories at the Hot Shots Film Festival in Edmonton.

Rickman and Henderson were grade 12 students this year in the Communications Technology class taught by Scott Conkwright, and it was Conkwright who saw an ad for the Hot Shots Festival on television and told Nick Ryckman he should submit his 3 minute film “Jerks” to the super short film category, and Henderson should submit his “Toronto Metro Jam” in the action short category.


When both films made the finals and would be featured in Edmonton on June 28th, SHS Principal Bruce Marchen told both of the filmmakers that he would find the money to send them to Alberta . Marchen talked the school board into funding the trip, and Henderson, Ryckman, and their teacher Scott Conkwright made the trip to Edmonton .

After the screenings, they were the only two Ontario-produced films to win prizes.

Back at his home in Verona this week, Nick Ryckman was still buzzing from the experience, and had some very good things to say about his teacher.

“Scott Conkwright really fights for his students. He’s made a real difference in my high school experience.”

Ryckman took a Communication Technology course in grade 10 but didn’t like it very much. “At the end of the year I was talking to two older students who said I should take it in grade 11 because Scott Conkwright gave his students a lot of freedom,” he said.

He ended up taking film courses in each semester of grade 11 and 12, and even though he has graduated he will be taking another course with Conkwright and several other advance students in the fall as well as peer tutoring for some younger film students.

“Conkwright comes from a film background. He worked in the industry, so he acts more like a producer than a teacher. If he tells you to change something in your movie, he doesn’t expect you to jump and do it, he expects you to make up your own mind. Everyone makes films in their own way. He understands that.”

In his film “Jerks” Nick Ryckman adhered to the old adage of making art about things that you know. The film is set in a video store and its central character is a clerk in the store. It was filmed at Pam’s Country Bulk in Verona where Ryckman works part-time behind the video counter. The Jerk of the film’s title is a film store clerk who constantly berates his customers for their inferior taste in films.

“Jerks” makes explicit reference to the film “Clerks” by Kevin Smith, which is about two store clerks. The main scene of “Jerks” features Nick Rykman as The “Jerk” putting down Kevin Smith as someone with an immature approach to filmmaking when a customer wants to rent one of his films.

Since completing “Jerks”, Ryckman has collaborated on an 8 minute long film. “Friday Night Casualties”, is “about three nerdy friends who get together to play Risk on Friday nights. When a fourth friend, who has become cool, comes to a game with a girl, it sets the three friends off. The film is a bit of an inside joke but people can relate to it,” Ryckman says. He is hoping it will be screened at a film festival in Kingston this fall.

Winning second prize at the Hot Shots Festival could be very useful for Ryckman because he intends to apply to the Humber College film course in 2008.

“It’s pretty cutthroat, and I’m hoping I can get credit for the Hot Shots results, because honestly, I’ve never been a top student. I could do the work, but it’s just not film. It doesn’t get me going like film does.”

(The News was unable to contact Mitch Henderson for this article, but will try again for next week’s paper.)

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