WATERVILLE — Gabe Ferris approached the teleprompter, stood straight and tall, and started reading aloud, with emphasis.

“There has been a lot of controversy over where to put a new homeless shelter in Portland,” he began.

To his immediate right was a TV screen, displaying his performance.

To the right of that was Shannon Moss, broadcast journalist for WCSH, NewsCenter Maine, in Portland, who was watching, taking notes and assessing his delivery.

A Waterville Senior High School senior, Ferris, 17, was taking part in Moss’ workshop “3,2,1, Cue,” as part of the second Maine Student Film & Video Conference, held at Mid-Maine Technical Center next the high school and hosted by the Maine Film Center.

More than 200 middle and high school students, as well as educators and film and video professionals from all over the state, turned out for the daylong conference, where students learned about narrative and documentary filmmaking, broadcasting, photography and a variety of technical and production skills.


Moss, who has worked in broadcast journalism for more than 25 years – 20 of those in Maine, also hosts “High School Quiz Show: Maine” on Maine Public.

She discussed tips and techniques needed to work in front of a camera, gave students part of actual news scripts and had them do hands-on newscasts. It is important, she said, to breathe, know your stuff, be energetic, let your personality come through, develop your voice to sound natural and conversational and maintain presence.

“You smile, you stand up straight, because posture matters,” Moss said.

The more one knows a subject, she said, the more confident he or she is.

“Practice,” she said. “Practice, practice, practice. You’re going to feel more comfortable; you’re going to be more at ease.”

The students practiced being out in the field and delivering news without a teleprompter, which required them to know their subject well. They also tried their hand at hosting “High School Quiz Show: Maine” in front of the camera. Moss, who reminded them to breathe and speak with inflection, pointed out their strong points and coached them on things they could improve. She was energetic and upbeat.


“You guys are doing such a good job – really, I mean it,” she said. “It’s not easy.”

Ferris, who plans to attend American University in Washington, D.C., in the fall, to study journalism, said the workshop was helpful, as he hopes to become a TV news anchor.

“I really liked it because I was able to practice in front of a camera,” he said after the workshop. “I was nervous at first, but then I warmed up. I could see myself getting better with practice and experience.”

He said he hopes to get a job in Washington with a news station after graduating from American University, where he plans to work on the student newspaper and get involved in the student television station.

Moss spoke with Ferris after the workshop and recommended he get involved in internships, the value of which, she said, she could not stress enough. She also gave him her card and told him to stay in touch.

“If you ever need anything, let me know,” she said.


Mike Perreault, executive director of the Maine Film Center, introduced attendees at 8:30 a.m. in the high school auditorium with Dave Boardman, mass media communications instructor at MMTC and co-founder of the conference. Boardman taught a workshop Saturday called “Ideas for the Digital Media Classroom.”

Perreault deemed the conference “an incredible success.”

“I’m so excited to see students and educators learning filmmaking and understanding filmmaking in the classroom and getting inspired to create their own projects,” Perreault said. “The skills that they learn here are so important – critical thinking, communications and other skills are so important in today’s workforce.”

In one classroom, Mackenzie Bartlett, a filmmaker and director based in Portland, was teaching students how to do special effects makeup. Bartlett, whose day job is managing a community arts nonprofit organization, has made several films, including “The Party,” which is circulating throughout the film festival circuit.

She taught students how to check a person’s skin tone color by having them place dots of red, blue and green color on their wrists and rubbing it in to determine if they have cool or warm tone skin color. That first step makes it easier to do a person’s makeup and determine what colors to use, according to Bartlett.

The students created a wound on their forearms by using liquid latex and spreading it in the shape of an irregular wound. They then placed a piece of paper towel over the latex in the shape of the wound and then made a sort of incision across it before layering on the colors.


Emma Jordan, a junior at Camden Hills High School who also attends Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland, said she was enjoying the workshop. Jordan said she does acting and technical work at Camden Hills and wanted to attend Southern Maine Community College after high school to study new media and explore education programs because she wants to work with children. She said she had done some work in special effects makeup but not extensively, so she was happy to be learning from an expert.

“I like this a lot,” she said. “I didn’t get a chance to do a lot of makeup.”

Bethany Desrosiers, 17, of Winslow, a student at Maine Arts Academy in Sidney, took Moss’ workshop. When Desrosiers read from the teleprompter, she came across words that did not express a thought accurately, so she quickly made up for it by introducing her own words. Moss complimented her on the catch.

“She fixed it in her own head and made it work,” Moss said, praising Desrosiers for her delivery in general.

“I also think that you had a great pace and your inflection was good,” she said.

Other workshops focused on topics such as storytelling, live truck production, cinematography, intermediate editing, 3D animation, use of drones, lighting, sound effects, screenwriting and video.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.