Loft Blog
From Teens For Teens: Babymouse for President / Jennifer L. Holm and Born Beautiful / Alfred Fornay PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 August 2014 00:00

BaBabymouse for Presidentbymouse for President by Jennifer L. Holm

I loved reading this book. The author did a really good job on making everything seem as if it were a real presidential election. Babymouse wants to be the president of their school because she wants to make some changes. For example, she wants to make the school more fun. However, she has competition and she thinks she won't be able to do it. She has the right words for a president, so why can't she be the school's president? I would recommend this book to anybody who would like to become a president or for the people who also like books that look like comics.

(Ivette C., Evanston teen)

Born Beautiful Born Beautiful: The African American Teenager's Complete Beauty Guide by Alfred Fornay

Born Beautiful gave me so many good tips. Great book!!!

(Mauranne V., Evanston teen)

Coming to a Screen Near You PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 16 August 2014 00:00

This fall's batch of YA movie adaptations range from suspenseful to surreal. Before you see these flicks, make sure to read the amazing books they came from. For more upcoming releases and movies currently in production, see our booklist.

The Giver The Giver by Lois Lowry

Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives. 

This movie was released August 15--now in a theater near you! 




If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia, a gifted cellist, weighs whether to live with her grief or join her family in death. 

Movie to be released August 22, starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia.



The Maze RunnerThe Maze Runner by James Dashner

Sixteen-year-old Thomas wakes up with no memory in the middle of a maze and realizes he must work with the community in which he finds himself if he is to escape. 

The movie, starring Teen Wolf's Dylan O'Brien, will be released September 19.




Here Be Monsters! Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow

While gathering food to bring to his grandfather, young Arthur becomes trapped in the city of Ratbridge, where he and some new friends try to stop a plot to shrink the monsters of Arthur's home, the Underworld, for a nefarious purpose.

From the director of Coraline and ParaNorman, movie adaptation The Boxtrolls comes out September 26. 


From Teens For Teens: Waluk / Emilio Ruiz and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone / J.K. Rowling PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 15 August 2014 00:00


Waluk by Emilio Ruiz, illustrated by Ana Miralles


This is an awesome book! You would all love it. It's about a small polar bear who got abandoned by its mother when he was a cub. That polar bear's name is Waluk. Now Waluk has to survive the Artic by himself, that is until he meets an adult polar bear named Manitok. He teaches Waluk how to hunt and especially how to survive humans. Sadly one day he gets kidnapped by humans. Now can Waluk survive on his own? Will he get help? What will happen to him? I recommend this book to anybody who would love to read about the polar bears and how hard it is to survive in their habitat. 

(Ivette C. Evanston teen)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

I have no words that accurately express the love I feel for this book. J.K. Rowling took an already spectacular idea and turned it into an even more fantastic book brought to life by her excellent writing. If you haven't read this, you are wrong.

(Sarah B., Evanston teen)


Filmmaking Workshop Recap #3: Manipulating the Camera PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 11:28

Howdy Filmmakers! For our third week, we talked about the camera and ways to mess around with lighting, sound, and camera angles/movement to achieve a desired look.


A number of teens had been to film camps before, so we swapped stories (and some horror stories) about film sets and the hazards of film equipment. For instance, on one of the first days of my graduate bootcamp, a fellow student was standing below the lighting grid and was nearly hit with a 200lb light. The light had not been properly rigged titleand when the grid was raised, the light fell. Had she not stepped back, the light would have fallen directly on her head and most likely killed her. Needless to say, my professor was angry and shut down the set for the rest of the day, citing a "safety concern."  Crazy stuff!


We discussed the importance of safety when handling lights as lights are heavy, extremely hot and very dangerous. They should always be handled while wearing gloves and always when they are turned off. Cords should be secured to the ground (with tape) so that tripping hazards can be avoided. When a light is ready to be turned on, the person handling the light will yell, "Striking!" to alert members of the crew to NOT LOOK AT THE LIGHT. 


Unfortunately for indie filmmakers, lights don't come cheap. However, this doesn't mean the lighting for your film has to suffer. There are some quick and easy things you can do to ensure that lighting is good in your film. To achieve good lighting: 


1. Film outside on a cloudy day: overcast light is GREAT light because it's consistent and doesn't change 

2. If you film inside, turn on the lights and avoid florescent bulbs

3. Use Chinese lanterns for close-ups and "soft light"


Another thing we talked about was sound and the fact that it is so important that people often forget it. I did say that right. Sound is often an overlooked aspect on film production mostly because filmmakers think that they can "fix it in post" if sound isn't recorded well day of. This is very difficult to do, so the best thing is simply to get the best sound possible on the day you shoot. There are a couple of ways that you can go about this:


1. When filming, choose a spot that will be quiet such as an indoor space (WHY: an indoor space allows you to control the sounds around you and anything/anyone that could make extraneous noise)

2. Avoid filming outside near extremely noisy areas (train stations, bus stops, etc)

3. Try to film dialogue-heavy scenes in a quiet space 

4. Use a separate microphone (separate from your on-camera microphone) and place it as close to actors as possible)


The last thing we talked about was camera angles and camera movement which go hand-in-hand with shot sizes. Camera angles are used to emphasize different parts of a story in different ways such as enhatitlencing character personalities are making us see pieces of a story in a different way. Shot sizes direct WHO we see while camera angles direct HOW we see them. For instance, a canted angle (like the image to the left from Christopher Nolan's "Inception") is meant to disorient the view and mess with perception. This kind of camera angle is often used in dream sequences. 


Check out this great link to see descriptions of camera angles and movement.  


At the very end of our day, teens split up into groups or worked solo to film a series of clips for a "30 Second Challenge." There were two categories to choose from, each with similar criteria. The goal of the challenge was to film enough footage to be able to edit the following week. 


Stay tuned for another post coming next week about our very last session which is tomorrow! 


Adios for now! 






The Falconer / Elizabeth May PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 August 2014 18:38

titleAileana Cameron hasn’t been the same since her mother died from a presumed animal attack. As a noblewoman in 19th century Scotland, her biggest concerns should be attending balls and securing a husband. However, Aileana knows the truth about her mother’s death: it wasn’t an animal who attacked her, but a fairy. And Aileana won’t stop until she kills the supernatural being that took her mother from her.

Aileana now has a secret life devoted to hunting fairies and slaughtering them before they can hurt more humans, all the while searching desperately for her mother’s killer. The fairies that she fights are less Tinkerbell and more all-powerful monsters, requiring her ingenuity as an inventor and strength as a fighter to overpower. However, when more otherworldly creatures begin to appear in Scotland, Aileana learns it’s no coincidence she’s so talented at hunting fairies--she’s a Falconer, a human tasked to protect the world from the supernatural. With the help of her best friend’s brother, the pixie who lives in her closet, and the mysterious fairy who’s been training her to fight, Aileana might be able to save the world--if she can overcome her need for vengeance.

If you’re looking for an exciting, well-written, action-filled read to top off your summer, look no further. Aileana’s brushes with the supernatural had me holding my breath, and the excellent world-building had scenes and characters leaping from the page. Its steampunk and historical touches made The Falconer stand out from the usual fantasy crowd--I’m already looking forward to the sequel.

 (McKenna, the Loft)


Filmmaking Workshop Recap #2: Pre-Visualization PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 11 August 2014 14:14

Howdy filmmakers! So...this is a long overdue post as our second week of the filmmaking camp was some time ago but better late than never. We talked over some important things that week--pre-visualization--that ended up going hand-in-hand with last week's topic of camera manipulation. 

Pre-visulazation is such an important step in the filmmaking process (and one that I will admit that I have never enjoyed). It involves the process of breaking down the script into a shooting script, shot list and storyboards in order to shoot your film. Each tool helps the filmmaker to understand what they are trying to say with their film and what is most important for them to capture on screen. Pre-visualing a film ahead of time provides a blue-print and a map to begin filming, helping to map which beats you are going to capture on screen. The beats are the meaty stuff--the tear-jerker moments that people remember. 


There is a "traditional" Hollywood model for shooting and a standard for how to arrange shots, much like the standard for writing scripts. It involves getting four shots: a Wide Shot that will establish what's going on followed by a series of Medium and Close-Up shots. An old Hollywood technique (that is still used today in big-budget movies) is to get a Master Shot. This means setting up the camera and letting it run for the whole scene.


When designing shots, it's important to think about shot sizes and how they will impact the emotions of the audience. We change shot sizes because they provide variety, emotion and interest to a movie. If a movie was the same shot size the whole time, it would be boring. There are many different types of shots used by filmmakers today and the list is endless because shot sizes are open to interpretation. That being said, here's a list of the ten most commonly used shots: 


1. Establishing shot and/or Master Shot (NOTE: They're NOT the same thing)

2. Wide Shot or WS

3. Full Shot or FS

4. Medium Shot or MS

5.Over-the-Shoulder or OTS

6. Medium Two Shot or M2S

7. Close-Up or CU

8. Extreme Close-Up or ECU

9. Insert Shots or INSERT

10. Reaction Shots or RXN 


 Check out this great link for more descriptions on shot sizes. 


At the end of the session, we broke off into groups to practice capturing these shot sizes using flip cameras. The next session built off the information learned here by delving into ways to manipulate the camera to get the shots you want...but more on that later. 


In just three days is the last session for the summer but not for the year. Stay tuned for information on filmmaking workshops starting this fall! 


Adios for now. 





From Teens For Teens: The Giver / Lois Lowry and Page by Paige / Laura Lee Gulledge PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 August 2014 00:00

The Giver The Giver by Lois Lowry

I loved reading The Giver by Lois Lowry. She did a very good job on getting me interested by the good details of the characters and of what is going on. Every chapter I read got me deeper and deeper into the book and more interested. It is about a twelve year old boy named Jonas who lives with 2 parents and his 7 year old sister Lily. As he gets older he has an assignment of being the next Receiver of Memory. Who I love is the Giver, he is the guy that transfers memories onto Jonas and helps him to do his job when he gets too old. I recommend this book to others that would like to travel though the Giver's memories and whoever would like to read about other communities. This book is really awesome!

(Ivette C., Evanston teen)

Page by Paige Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

This is a great book that makes you reconsider a lot of things in everyday life. Normally I go through graphic novels pretty quickly, but I stopped a lot during this one to think about its meaning. Paige, the main character, moves to New York and has to adjust to her new surroundings. This book shows her literally trying to sort through all of the thoughts in her head. With romance, emotions, and thoughtfulness, I would personally rate Page by Paige 4 out of 5 stars. It's more for girls.

(Owen T., Evanston teen)


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