In the early 1990s, the storefront at 731 N.H. was a treasure trove.
It belonged to a man named Chapman, who sold a plethora of goods, stacked high and piled onto shelf upon shelf in the cathedral-ceiling-like stone space. But when Dan Ginavan bought a laserdisc camera there, he had an idea: that space could be a movie studio.
Starting this summer, that same camera’s on display at 731 N.H., and Ginavan’s long-held dream is coming true. The space is the new home to his company, LightLyre, and it’s where he’ll hold a filmmaking camp for kids.
LightLyre Film Camp
• For kids age 11 to 17
• First session runs June 4 to June 29
• Second session runs July 9 to Aug. 3
• $169 per week or $599 for four weeks
• Siblings can receive discounts
• More information at lightlyre.com
After his master’s education in film at Kansas University (and a stint in California), Ginavan was the main filmmaker for the Kansas University Medical Center and occasionally taught filmmaking seminars in Kansas City, where he saw children show a knack for picking up and excelling with complex post-production software.
“By the second class, there was no limit to what they were doing,” he says. “They were all engaged, all clicking around and learning new things — even teaching me new things.”
The experience was rewarding, for the students and for Ginavan. For one of the kids — a student who taught the teacher a new way to animate fire — he was one of the first teachers to engage a certain creative outlet and provide some encouragement, he says.
With LightLyre in Lawrence, he hopes to reach more children between the ages of 11 and 17 with an interest in movies. He’s written a script for a science-fiction adventure — on a spaceship, kids are left to run the show — and during the camp, he’ll guide the participants in acting, lighting, shooting, editing and animating a final product.
“It’s going to look like a complete film,” he says. “I want kids to make something special, something that makes people think, ‘Wow, you made this?’”
With two sessions of the camp — one running in June and one in July — Ginavan says he’s interested to see how two groups of kids approach the same script and how the final movies are different or the same. The process of working together on different aspects of the film teaches the kids about the creative and technical processes as well as cooperation. They’ll be free to make their own choices, he says, as long as they can back up why they’ve made a particular choice and how it adds to the quality of the production.
After the summer camps, Ginavan plans to have classes for adults interested in promoting their own small businesses through a short film or even a personal project like a movie scrapbook. After that, Ginavan wants to lend out his computers and editing software through a membership “like a gym” for people of all ages to continue to work on their projects and skills.
As a filmmaker, he sees potential for Lawrence residents to get an interest in some aspect of movie-making or, if nothing else, to at least develop more of an appreciation for well-crafted art.
“We’re all — but especially kids — so media-savvy now, just through osmosis,” he says. “I want to help people at least see more in the media they see.”