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Cinema major zooms in on film production basics with Filmsters internship

Junior Cinema and Communication major Steven Angel interned with Filmsters, an Annapolis film camp, and put the fundamentals of filmmaking into action.

Steven Angel Summer 2023 Internship

Aspiring actors and filmmakers are known to make home movies when they’re children, but some take it to another level. Enter: Filmsters, an Annapolis, Maryland, summer camp for students aged 11-17 to create short films with their peers and help from Filmsters pros.

This summer, McDaniel junior Steven Angel of Arnold, Maryland, interned with the camp and got a firsthand look at how filmmaking is taught to young age groups — and learned a thing or two himself.

Steven Angle sits with a young boy in a tent lit with red light next to someone in a costume holding a skull.

Angel, center, on set for one of the short films.

From holding up the boom mic to acting in the films himself, every part of the process required his insight and guidance among the Filmsters team to help make flicks the campers would be proud to debut.

“I’ve always been interested in the work that producers do,” Angel says, “and on a small scale, the Filmsters internship was basically everything a producer does: making sure the shots look clean, keeping everyone on a tight schedule, reviewing scripts, working within resources. It was eye-opening.”

Although he’s far from a beginner in film, Angel was bound to gain news skills while supporting children while they write, plan locations, act, film, direct, and edit a short film in one week. Angel helped three to four beginners create a film noir comedy and a sci-fi action film that were pitched by campers.

“It’s a big undertaking, particularly for the beginner kids who, in theory, have never touched a camera or done anything other than watch movies. It can be tricky to explain concepts like continuity, and why they have to retake a scene multiple times,” he says.

“So much of the learning curve for me was discovering that you have to pick ideas that are going to be attainable, easy to shoot, and that the kids are going to have fun with,” he says. “By the second week and second film, I had already learned so much from the first that I was just having a blast.”

Although he acted in a role or two during the camp, professional actors from New York and Los Angeles who were once Filmsters beginners themselves return each summer to help out with the films. “It’s incredibly special to a lot of people,” Angel says.

He discovered Filmsters when he met the founders, Patty White and Lee Anderson, while volunteering with the operations team of the Annapolis Film Festival in spring 2023. It was an opportunity to see the film world from a new angle.

While he has learned a lot in McDaniel courses, and even assisted with the capstone films of his graduating Cinema peers, Angel’s internship provided new challenges to which he could apply concepts he was learning.

“The two big things that I had to keep in mind when helping these kids make their films was the idea of scope and scale,” he says. “In terms of scope, you don’t want to crush any dreams, but we had to keep in mind that we didn’t have visual effects or elaborate sets. We had to strike a balance and get creative and think outside the box to make the concepts happen.”

Angel recalls one of his favorite classes so far being about American independent cinema with Professor Jonathan Slade, which looked at early films by now-famous filmmakers.

“Often in film education, we look at directors at the height of their ability. We don’t always look at their first film and what it was like when they had no money, no time, and were fresh out of school,” Angel says. “Taking that class was all about what they were able to accomplish. Learning from those films was actually really, really transferable to this internship.”

With limited time and resources but a lot of imagination, the Filmsters were able to create films they were proud of.

“The camp teaches collaboration versus cooperation, and someone there said that filmmaking is the greatest team sport of all time, which I second wholeheartedly,” Angel says. “Even working as a Cinema student on campus with people my own age and different equipment, the fundamentals I used with Filmsters carries over.”

Back in high school, Angel enrolled in an IB film course while attending the Shanghai American School, and he knew then that studying Communication and Cinema was what he wanted to do in college. With family members who work in the television and film industry, the idea of one day working in the field has never felt unattainable.

Even as a sophomore, Angel is beginning to think of what his senior capstone film will be, taking inspiration from his courses — like Professor Slade’s Television Production class in the on-campus studio — and fellow student filmmakers.

“Being in McDaniel’s creative environment has really helped me. As a young filmmaker, you just have big ideas, and you have to figure out the best way to tell those ideas,” he says. “And if you really are into it and really passionate toward it, you’re going to stop at nothing to tell that story, because it’s what you love to do.”