Making Music Videos by Lara M. Schwartz

One of the greatest rewards for us here at Random House is to hear that one of “our” books has had a profound influence in your classrooms. We recently received an e-mail from Jeff Kuhr, a film/media teacher at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Kansas sharing the work his students have done over the past year. The Focus Film Festival, which began with 14 films five years ago and most recently boasted 92 student entries, combines the young talent of students from fifteen different high schools in the Northeastern Kansas region. The result was an awards ceremony attended by over 200 filmmakers, family members and community enthusiasts—a celebration of creativity, initiation, and raw talent.

Mr. Kuhr points to Lara M. Schwartz’s Making Music Videos: Everything You Need to Know from the Best in the Business as a key component in his students’ success stating, “Obviously, as a teacher, one of the things I hope to do (beyond encouraging great filmmaking) is to educate students about the hows and whys of production as well as great techniques they themselves can employ. From the basics to more advanced tricks and tools, Ms. Schwartz’s book has been a great asset to me in the classroom.” And the book’s influence will continue, as Making Music Videos was awarded to Focus Film Festival winners a few weeks ago. “I can’t tell you how excited my students are going to be when I tell them about [Random House’s] support of them and their film festival,” said Kuhr in an e-mail before the Festival. “Knowing that these students will have the chance to see read about some prominent players in the industry and discover some new filmmaking techniques—well, that’s priceless.”

Also priceless are the 130,000 YouTube hits from all over the world. That’s the number a Lawrence High film project, a music video featuring Homecoming/Winter Court festivities dubbed to Kim Wilde’s “Kids in America”, received just a few days after launch. “I think people really responded to the depiction of high school life we all still want to believe in—one that’s open to joy and acceptance and occasional dancing in the halls,” Kuhr said of his students’ hard work. When the video was hacked into and the class was forced to remove it from the site the students took a “viral stand” and chose to reupload it showing that “a little 3 1/2 minute video can make a difference.”

Random House Academic congratulates the students of Lawrence High School and the Focus Films Festival on their cinematic achievement.

To view Lawrence High’s “Kids in America” video, click here.

Have your students been doing amazing things? Has a Random House book made a big difference in your classroom? We invite you to e-mail and share your stories.