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For Dylan Bowman, film is his medium for sending a message, whether it’s a warning against distracted driving, a perspective on American liberty or a call to raise funds for his school’s fine arts program.
Martha McArthur, director of Walsingham Academy’s upper school, said the last video Bowman produced helped raise $94,000 for the program during the school’s annual Auction & Dinner for the Children, which led to the development of a new media production design class.
This year, Bowman has become a key member of the team behind the new “Walsingham Today” weekly news broadcast while also creating his own experimental films.
“I think the ability to pursue his own interests and find a means within a community to do that … I think that’s a great gift,” McArthur said.
Bowman, 18, of Williamsburg, said he grew up watching all kinds of films, not just those for children, and made his first stop motion animation film at 11 years old. He started creating art films when he was 14 or 15, he said, after discovering the power of film to “make people think.”
“It used to be whatever came to me, and now it’s about sending a message,” Bowman said of his films.
His talent has taken him to summer film programs at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014 and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts earlier this year. Bowman said NYU’s program taught him how to write scripts, work with a crew and explain his films to others.
At Walsingham, Bowman is part of a three-student team that films and produces a five-minute, weekly news program. The students use a professional camera and editing software purchased with the funds raised during the auction earlier this year.
His media production design teacher, Ann Efimetz, said Bowman’s skills are valued at each step of the process, but especially during editing.
“He’s got all of this experience under his belt that when he goes into it, he helps it really sparkle,” Efimetz said.
In 2014 Bowman was recognized for his video production talent when he won the school-wide Project Yellow Light video contest, which challenged students to create a minute-long film that promoted safe driving.
He said his films are inspired by current events, international conflicts and popular trends. For the VCU program Bowman explored modern anarchy by filming a waltz danced by the Statue of Liberty and a supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
He said the message he hopes to convey in his films is a “wake-up call” to change human behavior and attitudes, such as the way people see their relationships or how people define originality.
“People need to look at things from another perspective,” Bowman said. “They need to step into someone else’s shoes and think about it.”
Bowman said he intends to study film in college and aspires to become a therapist while continuing to make movies.