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Sewickley's Sweetwater center to host film festival, film-making class for teens

| Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 8:12 p.m.
Students in a previous class taught by Bill Feduska at the Sewickley Public Library shoot a film.
Students in a previous class taught by Bill Feduska at the Sewickley Public Library shoot a film.

Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley is “shooting” off into a new direction this summer by “focusing in” on a new class and new event.

Jess Revitai, center education director, said for the first time, Sweetwater will host a film festival for youths ages 13 to 18, with the winner receiving free admission to the the center's first “Film 101” class.

Instructors will be Bill Feduska, a photographer and filmmaker, and David Minniefield, who has a background in acting.

“It's a cool opportunity for students who might not be interested in the fine arts but want to learn more about film and acting. We've never had a class like this, and we only have musical theater and acting in the summer,” Revitai said.

For the film festival, Sweetwater is accepting submissions until 5 p.m. May 31. Short films, under 4 minutes on any topic, may be submitted in any genre — narrative, experimental, documentary or animation suitable for all ages.

Feduska and Minniefield, who taught a film class at Sewickley Public Library about five years ago through a grant the library received, wanted to organize the festival to try to stir interest in the new Sweetwater film class.

“I thought if we do this annually, it could open some doors for students who have a great interest in the film industry,” said Feduska, 55, a 1975 Quaker Valley High School graduate.

A video camera or cellphone may be used for filming. The top 10 entries will be selected by instructors and then viewed and voted on by the public at 7 p.m. June 10 at Sweetwater.

The final file format after editing must be QuickTime or Windows.avi. Entries should be mailed to or dropped off at Sweetwater on a USB jump drive, which will be returned to the participant. Jump drives must be labeled with the student's first and last name and telephone number.

“Film 101” will be held for students ages 13 to 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays, June 17 through July 29. No class will be held July 22. The cost is $150 for members or $180 for nonmembers.

Students will learn the art of filmmaking and acting through the teen movie “The Breakfast Club” and utilize Feduska's high-end RED Scarlet movie camera.

“It shoots like a motion film camera, so the students will get to start learning how real Hollywood cameras work and not just a point and shoot, like most handheld camcorders,” he said.

Students also will learn about set lighting, location sound recording using multichannel digital recorder and boom microphones, and editing the movie images and sound on a Macbook using Final Cut.

The class will be divided into those students who want to act, who will work with Minniefield, and those who want to film, who will work with Feduska. All materials will be provided.

At the end of the class, students will present their own 10-minute film.

“With so many films being shot right here in Pittsburgh, I felt this is a good addition to the current curriculum,” Feduska said. “Sweetwater is a great local facility currently with a great digital-photography class and instructor; branching to film would be the next logical progression for the school.”

Feduska has worked with sound, lighting and behind the camera for about 15 years. He owns MindBomb Studio in Ambridge and works with local bands.

Some of his current projects include filming a TV pilot based on the writings of Thomas White, a professor at Duquesne University, and shooting footage for a Maritime Highway documentary.

Minniefield has been an actor in the Pittsburgh area for more than 25 years. He has worked with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and now as an actor-director at Saltworks Theatre Company. He also has been in many local films and TV commercials.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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