Over the years, thousands of children have adopted the little theater in the back of the Roxy as their own.

It's there, in Theater No. 3, that they have learned the art and techniques of filmmaking in the International Wildlife Film Festival's summer and after-school programs.

Now, Janet Rose wants to make it their home - officially and permanently.

Earlier this week, the IWFF announced a capital campaign to turn the Roxy's back-most theater into the IWFF Youth Theater and Media Arts Center.

"What we're seeing," said Rose, executive director of the IWFF, "is that the demand, interest and need is growing across all these programs."

The IWFF is seeking $25,000 from donors - corporate, foundational and private - to transform the theater into a film-production incubator, with new computers, cameras, lighting, a high-definition projector and learning stations for journaling, editing, interviewing, sound design and other aspects of filmmaking.

The center would be the home ground for the IWFF's popular summer program series - the Montana Film Institute - as well as its various after-school programs and weekend workshops.

Rose said the new equipment and new learning stations will greatly enhance the creative opportunities for the thousands of children who sign up for those programs each year.

"They will know that this is a place to come and explore and find their own interests, and their own voice," she said, envisioning a media-center "clearinghouse" for kids and teens.

It will also help the IWFF in its educational outreach programs in schools across the state, as children will be learning the craft with cutting-edge technology and software.

If the campaign is successful, Rose said the new media-arts center will be up and running by the time school opens this fall. The theater would become the exclusive domain of children; no more would it be rented out or used by others.

The need for a centrally located media center, complete with all the learning tools of filmmaking, has grown in importance over the years and is indispensable now, said Rose, as even the youngest of children have become little filmmakers.

"We have 7-year-olds who come in, and are completely computer savvy," she said.

The back theater is currently nameless; the other two have been named after major donors to the IWFF and its programs.

Rose is hoping that perhaps some foundation - or some very generous family or individual - would like the theater to bear their name.

And yes, you can take that as a hint.

Reporter Jamie Kelly can be reached at 523-5254 or at jkelly@missoulian.com.

 

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