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"Video fights drugs, alcohol at SWHS"

"Youth Center raises fundsFunding for the anti-drug and alcohol videos to be produced at the high school is being led by the South Whidbey Youth Center. Producer Douglas Dirkson said the goal is about $35,000.Tax deductible donations may be made through the Youth Center. Call Youth Center Director Mindy Magnusson at 221-3230 for donation information.More information about the project may be obtained from Dirkson by calling him at 331-3447.An effort to fight substance abuse through video is coming to South Whidbey High School this year.Langley producer Douglas Dirkson is bringing an impressive track record with him to the hallowed halls of South Whidbey. Last year, working with Langley Middle School students, he produced an anti-smoking video titled ‘Think it Over.”That video became a 1999 National Winner in The Vision Awards, a competition designed to select the best local and regional television commercials and video presentations created by advertising agencies, production studios and television stations in the Unnited States.There are 41 categories in the Vision Awards, and more than 30,000 agencies and studios are eligible to enter. The categories are judged for creativity, production quality, copywriting and concept, talent and overall effectiveness.“The National Winners were among the best television and video productions in the United States in 1999,” said Dirkson. He produced “Think it Over” with Clancy Dunigan. Their company is called Dirkson & Dunigan.But much credit is also given to LMS students who helped Dirkson write the script and provided talent for the video, which was edited by Dirkson and Dunigan. Eric Moore contributed “He Quit,” the musical score.Among the student leaders were Arlan Dirkson, Brandi Pederson, Ryon Bright, Brittany Nielsen, Nathan Driscoll, Rachel Brink, Jordan Albertson, Casey Olson, Kris Kegley, Emily Showell Rouse, and Nick Bolvin.“The video seemed to be very successful,” said Dirkson. “We’re distributing it now.” The national award will help sell it to schools and health departments across the country.Their next local project is even more ambitious -- three videos to be produced by the end of this year at South Whidbey High School, again emphasizing student participation. Dirkson said a “core group of 30-plus kids,” will lead the way, but the whole school will be involved at times.The making of “Think it Over” required the entire LMS student body to gather on the football field to pummel a giant cigarette as a helicopter hovered overhead to film the scene.Dirkson said the first of the high school videos will address teens and alcohol, and the second teens and drugs. The third will document the making of the videos with a “how to” on making and distributing similar videos.The shooting schedule is due to begin Jan. 18 and continue for several months. The videos should be finished in time to screen before the school year ends.“Most of the students will take part at some level,” Dirkson said. “It’s a community effort and a teaching tool -- teens talking to teens.”He said high school principal and vice principal Mike Johnson and Doug Hale are very supportive.Dirkson acted in films in L.A. for 25 years and taught acting before switching to video production. He particularly enjoys working with kids, since two of his own are in the South Whidbey school system. “The process is the important thing,” he said. “It’s community education.”Students participating in the videos learn acting, writing and production techniques, as well as the anti-drug and alcohol message. Dirkson finds his new business more rewarding than his acting years. “I wanted to do something meaningful and significant.” he said."

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