About this project
Opera Kids is a documentary that follows a fifth grade class on their yearlong journey creating an original “opera.” [Click "Play Video" above.]
They’re regular kids with one extraordinarily ambitious goal. In one school year, they must create and perform an entirely original opera. It is the ultimate rite of passage to middle school and all eyes are on them. They’re the composers, writers, set designers and carpenters, electricians, historians, costume and make-up designers, performers, managers and public relations team. Forty-two 10-year-olds do it all!
But it’s not so easy being ten-years-old. It’s the awkward age of growth spurts, braces, first crushes, jealousies and cliques, bouts of shyness and broken hearts. The documentary encompasses both the drama of putting up a show and the comedy of coming of age. It is joy, pain, compromise and resilience—as seen through the eyes of ten-year-olds.
Opera Kids demonstrates the profound effect the arts can have on children and reminds us that, whatever our age, we can and must work together. No matter how hard that might be. The show must go on.
About the Opera Program
“Creating an Original Opera” was developed by the Metropolitan Opera Guild 30 years ago and this past academic year marked this New Jersey school’s 25th annual opera. Out of the hundreds of schools that once participated in this program, only few remain. With increasing weight placed on core curriculums and test scores throughout both private and public schools, programs like “Creating an Original Opera” are dwindling, as the Arts are not commonly considered as integral a part of our children’s education as Math or Science.
For some students, the Opera is the reason they come to school. For others, it’s the first time they’ve ever worked with a member of the opposite gender or personality type. Some discover that they really can sing or draw and overcome their inhibitions. And for a few, it may turn out to be the launching of a career. But for most, it’s a shared experience they’ve anticipated throughout their years in lower school and will remember all their lives.
Max Sturm (Director) is a Fifth-Grade Opera alum, pictured above in glasses and suspenders in his own Fifth Grade Opera, An Unexpected Adventure. He met Joseph Alessi (Director) in their high-school production of Pippin and they’ve been collaborating ever since (Now & Then picture below). Other than Opera Kids, their film work includes Lyrical Medicine Chest (Winner of PBS’ Reel 13 Competition and Anthology Archives Selection) as well as the upcoming Indianapolis, an adaptation of a short story by Pulitzer Prize recipient Sam Shepard. Max and Joe are the founding members of 60.46 Productions – www.sixtyfortysix.com.
Henry Fernaine (Producer) started his career producing and directing a documentary short on DreamYard, an arts education program in the Bronx. He has worked on several studio projects and independent films, and most recently served as Executive Producer on the Academy Award nominated film Revolutionary Road starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet – www.bedouinfeatures.com. Co-producing Opera Kids with Henry are 60.46 associates John Monton and Max Sturm.
See www.OperaKidsMovie.com for a full list of credits and more information!
One year ago we began pre-production on Opera Kids. We quit our jobs and spent the entire academic year from September to June filming. No one has been paid to make this film. We’ve had no commissioning money and no access to conventional funding. This independent production has been self-financed from our own (23-year-old) pockets – a true labor of love.
But completing a feature-length film and preparing it for a festival launch requires much more than our time and rented/borrowed equipment. It has been and will continue to be an enormous undertaking in film editing with over 600 hours of footage from a variety of high definition cameras. Sound Mixing. Color Correction. Music Rights. Scoring. Festival Submission Fees. These are just a handful of items that we will invest in to add production value to the film, bring it to the finish line and release it to screens (hopefully) across the country. With your help, our goal is to raise finishing funds in the amount of $30,000 on Kickstarter over the course of the next 8 weeks. Please contribute as little as a dollar or as much as you’re able to. See the panel to the right for a breakdown of pledge prizes, including the Opera Kids T-shirt, cast recording, commemorative photo album, and even a private script consultation with the people behind Revolutionary Road!
Please stay tuned-in as we start this challenging but exciting post-production process and crowd-funding campaign! We’ll be releasing unseen stills and clips from the film each week, so come back for more! In the meantime, please share this project with your friends and family. Spreading the word is a necessary ingredient in helping us reach (and hopefully surpass) our target of $30,000! Your support is greatly appreciated as our film depends on you!
How does Kickstarter work?
If we are successful in reaching our goal of $30,000, we receive all the funds. But if we fall short at the end of our 8-week campaign, we receive none of the funds; what has been pledged gets returned to those who have contributed. So we CAN’T fall short. We CAN, however, exceed our target of $30,000 and are hoping to do so. More funds will allow us to make an even greater film, and produce different versions at different lengths so we’re able to distribute it more widely. We’ll also be able to work with top-notch editors and sound designers, and even bring on board a high profile arts education advocate to narrate the film. Will you help us stand up for arts education programs across the nation by contributing to Opera Kids?
We'd love to hear from you! If you have any questions, comments, or would like to get involved in this project, please email us at email@example.com. In the meantime, please "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our website at www.OperaKidsMovie.com.
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