CHARLOTTESVILLE — In one short semester, Eastern Hancock High School students transformed from camera novices into filmmakers.

Eastern Hancock High School’s video production class released its first short film on YouTube in December 2015. “Bobby Dicey and the Mystery of the Monster” was written, filmed and edited by the three students in the class, with the guidance of teacher Mike Judy. The film is a mystery/comedy about a very clumsy detective and a scientist who creates a monster.

The class invited friends and family to a premiere the last week of school before the winter break. They screened the 10-minute film in the gymnasium, and principal Dave Pfaff attended, which made the event extra special, Judy said.

In addition to the short film, the class has produced short films for the school district’s website. The class began as an extension of Eastern Hancock Student Publications, which includes students in the yearbook and the student newspaper classes.

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“We always try to do things that benefit the school,” Judy said.

The students learn to produce videos on Adobe Premiere, a film editing software program used by broadcast and film professionals, Judy said.

The cameras the students use were provided through a grant from NineStar Connect, said student publications teacher Jen Ebert. Her strength wasn’t video or sound production, so she was delighted to discover her teaching assistant, Judy, studied those very subjects in college.

Since Judy was unavailable during the student productions class this semester, staff decided to give him his own class, and video production was born.

“It worked out great to take those three students and work with them on a more personal level,” Ebert said. “It was kismet; everything just aligned.”

Judy gets to hand-pick students for the class, which he appreciates as he only wants students who are really interested in learning the ins and outs of video production — a sometimes tedious process.

The students in the class learn how to shoot, produce, record and edit video, Judy said. To prepare for making their own silent film, the students watched Charlie Chaplin movies, Ebert said.

Ebert said she was touched by how much heart the stud- ents in the video production class put into each project.

This semester, there are only two students taking video production — senior Jacob Fish and junior David Burris. Fish and Burris have the basics down, Judy said. Last semester, sophomore Nathanial Newsome was also in the video production class, and took part in making the video.

Burris said he decided to take the class along with drama class because he wants to learn how to act and edit videos on his own. He took student productions last semester.

“I want to be the best character possible,” he said. “I want to make people laugh.”

Fish said he would love to end up in a career in the film industry. He plans to take video production through the rest of his high school career; then, he wants to learn to act in addition to a day job.

He enjoys the creativity that the class allows him, and he enjoys working with other students to produce videos like “Bobby Dicey and the Mystery of the Monster,” he said.

Judy is a great teacher, Fish said, in particular because he is always willing to help his students out.

“He is a great friend,” he added. “I couldn’t have done this without him.”

Where to view the film

All of the work done in the video productions class is posted on the Eastern Hancock High School Student Publications YouTube page. “Bobby Dicey and the Mystery of the Monster” can be seen at 

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or