For Sierra Weaver, being in Bentonville really opened her eyes. The Madison County native has always appreciated the arts, but taking part in a film camp has really exposed her to a potential career in that field.
“I’ve always liked filming and movies. I want to be an art teacher, so I can go back to Kingston and spread the arts and teach students how to draw. I want to start something big in Kingston that’s bigger than the town itself,” the Kingston High junior said.
Weaver played a lead role a short film, which she said really pushed her out of her comfort zone. Her camp instructor encouraged her to go beyond the norm.
“I wanted to show everyone that I’m here for a reason. I wanted to show everyone that I can do this and how much I really care about this kind of stuff,” she said.
That type of confidence is the reason Joey Travolta crisscrosses the country to put on his Inclusion Film Camp, which is specifically designed for people with disabilities to learn about the film industry and to incorporate the skills they learned into any setting. Travolta, a veteran filmmaker and an older brother of Academy Award-winning actor John Travolta, returned to the Natural State for the second consecutive year to put on the camp NorthWest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville in April.
This camp targets Arkansas high school juniors and seniors with disabilities.
“The biggest takeaway is feeling like they’re part of something because when you make a film together, you become like a family,” Travolta said.
Travolta’s passion for people with disabilities started while growing up. He said his father always “rooted for the underdog” and encouraged his children to treat everyone with respect. Travolta later became a special education teacher.
“I model everything I do after my dad. Everyone was always welcomed at our house. I developed this whole program on how he treated people,” Travolta said.
This year, the fifty camp participants were divided into three groups, and each group created a short film. The students played a role in developing the script, playing a role, performing camera work, and other duties.
“It doesn’t matter if you go into filmmaking or not, these are skills that are transferrable,” Travolta said. Cedar Willis, a senior at Arkansas Arts Academy in Rogers, said he enjoyed working on the technical side of filmmaking.
“It’s been a fun experience. I’ve made some new friends,” Willis said.
(Photo: Joey Travolta (left) gives guidance to a film camp student as she captures a scene for her group's film.)