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'The Glue Blues' earns young filmmakers spot in film festival
By Deborah Donovan | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 10/4/2010 12:10 AM

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You don't have to be in fifth grade to make a cute video about glue bottles, but apparently it helps.

Five students at Dryden Elementary School in Arlington Heights did such a good job that their 3½-minute video, "The Glue Blues," it will be screened this month at the International Children's Film Festival 2010 in Chicago.

It's already been shown in two other festivals, the Screen Test Student Fest in Schaumburg and the International Shortie Awards in Washington, D.C.

The filmmakers, now students at South Middle School, are Isabella McDonnell, Nick Serio, Jack Jones, Kiara Newman and Emma Drezen.

While the results are charming, the video started out as an educational film. When Dryden teacher Tricia Fuglestad sees a problem or wants to get a lesson across in her art room, she believes video can be part of the solution.

And anyone who's worked with children's projects knows glue bottles that stick or gush all over are a problem.

Fuglestad wrote a song about glue and did much of the film's editing. The five students created story boards, worked with a green screen, shot the action, recorded the sound and starred in the production that includes song and dance numbers.

"They figured out that it would be the best way to tell the story -- actually be the glue bottles," said Fuglestad. "The audience would have more compassion for glue bottles. And it works. When a glue bottle is asking, the students listen. They care."

Filmmaking is not all glamour. The students gave up recess for 2½ months to complete the film, but Isabella points out it was during winter.

She says the knocking of her knees was audible when "The Glue Blues" crew was called up on stage at the Schaumburg fest. And Kiara might look like a natural in the finished flick, but she says she's "not really good in front of people."

Jack saved the day by ad-libbing that not only had he given up recess, but he also had two heart attacks and six seizures during the filming process.

Nick chimed in with, "I learned CPR that day."

"They actually stole the show, they were so funny," Fuglestad said.

The green screen similar to what television weather people use when it looks like they're standing in front of a map can be trickier than you might think.

"We tripped over it, and Nick got wrapped in it," said Isabella.

"They had to imagine when working with the green screen what they were really doing," said the teacher. "They were inside a glue bottle, dancing glue bottles, the three girls did the kick line."

And what was the most fun in the whole process? Making the bloopers video.

"We had to grab all the glue bottles, and some went flying across the room and some didn't move," said Isabella.

Fuglestad started making videos about five years ago, with students getting more and more involved over the years. Today her more than 60 "Fugleflicks" posted online are well used.

"Teachers around the country tell me how much they love the videos and that they ... use them as a resource for their classes," she said.

Other famous Fugleflicks are "Complementary in Every Way," a love story between red and green, and "Let's Be Green When We Clean."

The star of one video, "Young Sloppy Brush," carried the DVD about his fate at the hands of careless art students to classrooms around the country, including the Virgin Islands.

Fuglestad was inspired by "Thumbtanic," the story of the Titanic told with decorated thumbs. Her first video featured herself telling youngsters to be kind to erasers.

"Making 'The Glue Blues' was about dreaming big and trying to see if you can make that work," said the teacher.

"They said, 'We should be upside down and have glue come out of our heads.' They had to figure out how to make that happen. It required creativity and problem solving. And many takes because we weren't going to settle for sloppy work."

"The Glue Blues" will be shown during the International Children's Film Festival 2010 at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago.