By Heather Baer
San Pedro High School senior Joe Bautista may have been surprised to hear that a public service announcement created from a storyboard he helped create would air on network television ÷ but his teacher wasn't.
Bautista and fellow students from film and animations classes entered a public service announcement contest last spring with storyboards dealing with the link between guns and death.
In June, the film class found out its storyboard had won the Entertainment Industries Council contest and that the students would be taken to Paramount Studios for a tour.
"The kids wanted to go on a tour of the Paramount facilities so we entered the contest," said Evie Hunter, teacher of both the film and animation classes. "Honestly I expected us to win. Our students have consistently done amazing work so this wasn't a huge surprise."
What the students and Hunter didn't expect was that the public service announcement produced from the students' storyboard would be braodcast on both the Fox and CBS networks, with Oscar-winning actor Michael Douglas narrating the segment. The PSA is also slated to run on independent stations across the country.
"School has just started so I didn't find out until today," 17-year-old Bautista said Tuesday. "I knew that we had a good storyboard but I didn't think that it would win and go this far. It makes me want to keep doing this in the future."
Storyboards depict a story with a series of drawings, much like a comic strip. The storyboard submitted by the San Pedro High class depicts a male student upset about breaking up with his girlfriend and looking for his family's gun. His mother walks in, discovers what he is doing and consoles him.
"The storyboard shows the importance of gun awareness and locking up guns to prevent suicides and accidents," Principal Stephen Walters said.
Both of Hunter's classes wanted to participate. The classes broke up into six groups of six students each. The students brainstormed and brought their ideas to the class. Each class voted on the best ideas and soon began production.
"Rather than picking one of the storyboard ideas presented in the class, the students voted and incorporated many ideas into one board," Hunter said. "There was only one entry per class so it was good that everybody's ideas were used and it was great to find out that both of the classes had been selected as finalists."
Ultimately it was the film class that won the contest. Although the PSA has been picked up by the networks, air times and dates are not known. Both CBS and Fox picked up the segment and will send it out to affiliate stations, which will decide on air dates.
"Suicides account for 58 percent of all gun dealths," said Barbara Lurie, the former Entertainment Industries Council program director who supervised the project. "We're hoping this project, by raising awareness, will end up saving some lives."
All materials (c) 2002 The Copley Press Inc.