Earlier this year, a group of elementary school students wrote, directed and filmed their own movie. After creating their masterpiece, a flick titled “Cafe Apocalypse,” the students sold tickets to the premiere and copies of the film.
The students were part of The Blue House, a local organization that teaches young people of all ages the basics of the film, music and tech industries while promoting entrepreneurship.
“(The kids) do everything, all the way up until the red carpet premiere. Then, there is an entrepreneurial piece, where we sell the film and split the profits between the kids. We show them the breakdown of how much the materials cost and how much the profit was,” said Dija Henry, who, alongside her husband Darye Henry, founded The Blue House and supervised the film’s production.
Dija is an actress who gained an interest in filmmaking after purchasing a DSLR camera, and Darye is a music producer with a love of entrepreneurship. The college sweethearts wanted to find a way to pass on their knowledge to the next generation.
“Ever since we met 20 years ago, we talked about what we wanted to do in the future, and it always surrounded music and film,” said Dija. “Now we have created these classes for kids, and I have basically taken all of my experience and put it into a weeklong camp.”
The name “The Blue House” was inspired by the couple’s first home, a little blue house with equipment used to produce music in the basement. Though the students are there to learn, the Henrys want the program to feel like home away from home for the students. The camps typically take place while students are on breaks from school, allowing the young people to focus on a weeklong creative project with no distractions.
“When they are on their breaks with nothing to do, the parents like that the kids can come every day,” said Dija. “The kids have gotten so many opportunities from this. My son got a professional voiceover job, a marketing company wanted to use something the kids shot, another student did some work with a local business journal.”
Fourteen-year-old actress Destiny Simmons feels the opportunities The Blue House afforded her were invaluable. Simmons was part of a small team who wrote, directed and filmed a short thriller titled “Room 123.”
“On the first day we introduced everybody, and by the second day we were working on the script and taking cover pictures,” said Simmons. “My favorite part was growing as an actress and finding new ways to train myself to play a different person.”
Whether the students gain a long-term love of filmmaking or not, Dija and Darye want them to realize their potential.
“I want them to feel empowered to tell their own stories from their own perspectives and express themselves. I hope they have fun and get an idea of what it’s like to work really hard toward a goal,” said Dija.
Watch past film projects at facebook.com/thebluehouse.co. To sign up for a class, visit thebluehouse.co.
Dija and Darye Henry
Destiny Simmons attends Room 123 premiere.