After reading several chapters of Mein Kampf, a veteran of World War One expresses concern that history is about to repeat itself. His children discover their father's wartime diary, in which he recounts witnessing the Armenian Genocide. Directed by Karl Heidenreich.
2. Early and Honorable - 15 minutes - 2007
Jessie is determined to arrive at the airport in time to greet her father - an infantry company First Sergeant - as he returns home from Vietnam. Unfortunately, instead of taking the next flight to the States, he is called to investigate a reconnaissance mission gone wrong. Directed by Karl Heidenreich.
3. Enemies in War - 14 minutes - 2003
Currently being uploaded
Young people struggle to survive the British occupation of Queens County during the Revolution. Jimmy sells alcohol to the British while gathering information, his sister remains home under house arrest. Meanwhile, a rogue Continental soldier and a British officer maneuver to get one another in their gun sights. Directed by student Melissa London.
4. Autumn They Die - 10 minutes - 2004
After witnessing, and photographing, the murder of a federal agent, the son of a small town newspaper man gives shelter to the Klan's next potential victim. His dad, the reporter, is able to use the photographs to reveal several prominent town officials for who they really are. Directed by students Natalia Misas and Jessica Suazo.
5. Some Extra Money - 17 minutes - 2000
Tommy and his older sister Alyce struggle to help their hardworking parents keep their home in depression-era Babylon, NY. Tommy becomes involved with railroad drifters rebuilding their gang, they teach Tommy how to make that extra money of the film's title. Alyce calls on the local detective to help get her brother out of the murderous gang. Directed by student Melissa Monteleone.
6. Juden, raus! - 19 minutes - 2001
In the days after Kristallnacht, two sisters spend their last night in Germany evading the local Hitler Youth. That morning, the race is on to arrive at the Kindertransport as it heads toward safety in Holland. The girls know secrets about the local Jewish community that makes them a target for the Nazis and may make their escape impossible. Except that their friend Friedrich would do anything, including commit murder, to see them safe. A four-page feature article in Scholastic Scope lauded this film as a masterpiece of hands-on teaching and learning. Directed by student Genna Miller.
7. A Maiden's Cry - 12 minutes - 2005
Young denizens of post-war 1940's Lower East Side suspect a reclusive man of being a communist, or worse. They follow him, and spy on him, as he quietly goes from place to place seeking a solution for his predicament. Flashbacks reveal a young girl separated from her father as he escaped prosecution for writing against the Irish occupation by fleeing to America.
8. Wisdom and Justice - 16 minutes - 2006
After both moving from New York City to the racially segregated south during the 1950's, a boy and girl struggle to remain friends despite all of the odds against them. An idealistic young teacher watches as the town's schools are closed to prevent one young girl from attending.
9. Empty Spaces - 13 minutes - 2002
A group of students from a Queens, NY middle school cobble together excuses not to go home after school on a Friday night in November 2001 and to travel via subway to ground zero in lower Manhattan. Along the way, each reveals a personal reason for going forward with the trip - or for turning back. With a screenplay written in late September, pre-production in October and principal photography that began in November of 2001, Empty Spaces was the first scripted narrative film to take-on the emotional impact of 9/11. An article entitled 'A Moving Picture' appeared in Scholastic Scope magazine lauding the courage of the film's student producers, several of whom are of middle-eastern background. Directed by student Sumra Mian.
The ACE Film Production Company at Middle School 210, Queens NYC
(September 1997 - June 2007)
From 1997 to 2007, I taught film-making which resulted in the production of twelve broadcast-quality short films shown on WNYE Channel 25 (PBS) in New York City. Along with a cadre of dedicated colleagues, we instructed topics such as screen writing, location scouting, costuming, lighting, sound, camera operation and computer editing. Our students performed most if not all 'above the line' responsibilities except for portraying adult characters.
The films listed below were produced from 2000 through 2007. The theme of the productions were all 'significant moments in history and the teenage characters affected by those events.' The starting point for each film was my Social Studies classroom, in which a representative from a writer's workshop would collaborate with my students to formulate a cohesive story to be turned into a screenplay. From there, the process moved on to 'learn film making through the making of a film.'
Admittedly, none of the films are consistently strong in all aspects, but keep in mind, the only media industry professional who contributed to the productions was Miss Allison Talis of Working Playground (an arts integration workshop). In view of the fact that all other participants were classroom teachers and our students, the results were nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, the quality of production we became capable of has not been duplicated by any school in New York City since then. Colleges and film schools rarely come close to what we did for those ten years.
This page is currently under construction. Active links to films are shown in blue.
Please scroll down the list - I am in the process of uploading the videos.
The following is re-printed from a synopsis of the program I wrote in 2008:
The ACE Film Production Company at Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210, Queens, N.Y.C. (1997-2007), was founded in 1997 by Social Studies teacher Karl Heidenreich, Language Arts teacher Ted Feimer, Reading teacher Carl Viñas, and Foreign Language teacher Magali Alvarez. The goal was to produce at least one student-written, acted, directed and produced broadcast-quality short film per school year. The story concepts began with 'a significant period of time in history involving teen characters,' and the student writers took it from there. A total of twelve films were produced within ten years, broadcast on Channel 25 WNYE (a PBS affiliate) in New York City.
Student involvement in the film projects dominated over the teachers' contributions, especially in the area of story conception and scriptwriting. The post-9/11 drama Empty Spaces used no adult actors at all, and the script was practically written behind closed doors entirely by students. On the other hand, the first three scenes of the late-1960s drama Early and Honorable involve mostly adult characters, and the film's student writers took recollections from Vietnam Veterans and used them nearly verbatim in the script. Researching the Kristallnacht film Juden, raus!, brought student writers face-to-face with Holocaust survivors, in interviews arranged by Global History teacher Wendy Lindner.
"I actually felt I had to hide," says Natasha Simon (who plays Sarah), "I'm Jewish, and making this movie helped me learn more about the Holocaust..."
Juden, raus! in Scholastic Scope Magazine, April, 2002
Real-world settings dominate the backgrounds of these films. The locations that welcomed us helped create a realism that otherwise would not have been possible on our less-than-shoestring budgets. We filmed in churches and restaurants; on subways, steam trains and historic stations; in Victorian-era museums; at state parks, beaches and on sailing ships; on historic battlefields and in forts; in vintage police stations, courtrooms and jails; in hippie-bars, summer camps and modern airports. Military re-enactors provided some of the most historically detailed scenes, and occasionally appear in the same scenes as student actors, as seen in the Revolutionary War adventure Enemies in War. Classic car owners contributed some of the finest 'sense of time and place' cues, for example, the Chrysler Roadster in the Roaring '20s film Autumn They Die.
...Channel 25 WNYE will air 'Some Extra Money,' a touching, riveting and gorgeously photographed film produced by the students of Elizabeth Blackwell Middle School 210.
Some Extra Money in the Press of Southeast Queens, September, 2000
In the later years, we were fortunate to welcome Social Studies/Gifted Ed. teacher Mary McCabe-Wagner, who assumed major responsibilities on at least six films, including co-directing the Civil Rights drama Wisdom and Justice. Teacher/actors included Ted Feimer, Joseph Zemaitis, James Hannafin, Kevin Collins, Steve Fishel, Lauren Mitchell, VonReya Shaw, Mark Benjamin, Brett Leichtman, Matt Gerych, Art Zander, and 'civilians' Greg Atherton and John Wagner. Nick Santora and Jason Astrup headed out into the 1915-era Syrian Desert (conveniently located on Long Island) to witness the Armenian Genocide in Memoirs of a Captain. 'Miss Alli,' a professional theatrical director from Working Playground, Inc. helped students bring their story ideas to print, she was the only theater/film industry professional who ever worked on any of our projects.
Most importantly, the parents transported, costumed, coached and otherwise encouraged their children, especially to tolerate the demands of their perfectionist Social Studies/Film Production teacher.
Karl Heidenreich, Franklin N.Y. (April 2008)
Karl Heidenreich ACEFilmCo.com Contact: email@example.com