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Harrison hopes to continue with film

Students attending Tuesday afternoon's International Wildlife Film Festival got a unique treat: a chance to ask questions of one of the 10 filmmakers of "Underwing."

The filmmaker was (almost) 12-year-old Will Harrison, who had attended a five-day workshop introducing young Missoula-area filmmakers to wildlife filmmaking last August. Two Missoula-based organizations, the IWFF and the Montana Natural History Center, sponsored the session.

The 16-minute film, the first film produced by Missoula kids to be entered in the IWFF, won three awards: Best of Category for School Group, a Finalist Award in the Amateur Category and a Merit Award for Communication to a Young Audience.

"I don't think any of us had done any film work" before the workshop, Harrison told the students who stayed to listen to him and Yari Sirnio, a Finnish producer for "Dipper," another children's program.

Sirnio told the students he was happy to see "Underwing" because Finland has a problem finding young programs for kids 10-15 years old. "These are good ideas for my friends," he said.

The first couple days of the workshop, Harrison explained, the 10 students learned about ethical decisions, how to film wildlife and how to use the equipment. On the third day, they went to Raptors of the Rockies and filmed everything they needed.

"I liked it a lot," Harrison said, responding to a question about the bird rehabilitation and education center in Clinton. "I had never been there before."

On the fourth and fifth days, they went to Missoula Community Access Television studios and learned to edit their tape.

The class was divided into four groups, which each filmed 15 minutes. Those 15 minutes then were edited to about 4 minutes. Those four minutes from the four groups became "Underwing."

"It was real fun," Harrison said.

What he liked best about the film, he said, was Crackety Jones, a western screech owl, and his segment of the film.

Harrison would like to attend another workshop camp this summer.

"I will try to be in it if I can," he said. "It's amazing how a little camp can turn into something big."

Joining Harrison in working on the film were Walt Javins, Stephen Ladwig, Brendan Work, Nick Weber, Owen Javins, Alison Trigg Conner, Adrienne Ellsworth, Callie Schalk and Brittany Hickman.

The IWFF continues with more showings through Saturday evening at the Wilma Theater. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday showings will be at 9:30 a.m., 12:30, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday's films can be seen at 2, 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. If you cannot make a showing, the films are available in the IWFF library.

Individual screenings cost $7 for the general public, $5 for students and seniors and $4 for matinees.

Complete film schedules are available at many Missoula businesses or at the IWFF office at Fort Missoula.

Reporter Donna Syvertson can be reached at 523-5361 or e-mailed at

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