A Project for Better Journalism chapter

Summer Arts: Ryan Minter and Cherie Sang

Mother and son. Possibly one of the strongest relationships one can form. Whether it be through one of love or conflict, the way every individual has a bond with their mother is unique to themselves. Ryan Minter, a senior and aspiring filmmaker, recently created the short film “You’re my son” which highlights this complex yet strong relationship between a mother and son. 

As a kid, Minter was always interested in film making, carrying around a camera with him everywhere. Minter mostly taught himself how to edit and go through the process of film making, however received guidance from summer camps at the New York Film Academy and Northview’s film class. 

Minter made this short film that he could submit to colleges for his portfolio due to his desire to pursue film making, specifically creating this film for the NYU admissions process. The process of writing and creating Minter’s short film spanned over about two and a half months and involved a copious amount of writing, filming, and editing. Minter spent a majority of June and July writing the script for the film, admitting that this was the longest part of the process due to several factors: one of them being writer’s block. Due to Minter’s writer’s block, he found writing the dialogue to be the most difficult component of his film making process. 

“Writing natural dialogue is the worst because if someone says something weird, you pick up on it immediately,” Minter said. “But just be as natural as possible. Know who your characters are and that’s about it really. Go in whatever direction it wants to go in.”

These challenges, however, did not stop Minter from finishing his script. Although his writer’s block may have caused him to take longer than usual, Minter found a way to work through it and admits he usually sat in his room with the lights off to help him think. In addition to this, Minter found that consulting other artists helps him work through any obstacles.

“I love talking to other artists and seeing their views on the world or their views on anything like music,” Minter said. “Especially when they’re really good at what they do.”

As the building block of the entire piece, Minter believes that the writing process is perhaps the most important part. Minter emphasized the writing process of his film as he thought it was integral to creating a quality work of art. He asserts that if the writing of a film is poor, then the film will be poor quality as well. 

Following the creation of the script, Minter spent time casting the actors. One of the actors, senior Tessa Ziegler, has been a friend of Ryan’s since eighth grade and has seen him grow as both an artist and an individual. 

“Ryan’s film making is so different from everyone else’s, and I’m so happy that he’s found his own style,” Ziegler said. 

Being his friend for many years, Ziegler has also seen what Ryan is both inspired and motivated by. Ziegler admits that hearing people’s positive feedback is very motivating for Minter, and that seeing everyone’s reactions to his films helps push him to keep making better stuff. Ziegler knows that Minter’s film making will influence others due to the significant themes behind them.  

“Ryan’s film making will make an impact because he has meaningful messages behind his films,” Ziegler said. “His college film has many [both] blatant and hidden messages that are all impactful to those who see it.”

Following this casting process, Minter spent time scoring instruments, filming the movie, and later editing it. Minter, along with his film making, has a diverse musical background, as he knows how to play the guitar, piano, drums, and bass. However, although Minter plays a few instruments, he admits that writing the music was the most difficult part of the process. 

“It was essentially just a lot of late nights of me just staying up playing random chords until I got something I liked,” Minter said.

Minter then filmed during the first two weeks of August and, following that, edited the film in order to meet the deadline. 

As an artist, Minter takes inspiration for his films from experiences or stories his friends or family may have had. For this film specifically, Minter used experiences that his friends and loved ones had. 

“I am lucky to have a good relationship with my mom,” Minter said. “I took inspiration from my friends who may not have the same relationship with their mom and kind of made it for them as a tribute.”

Minter’s parents have been supportive of Ryan’s film making, and have seen his deep interest for film making develop over the years. Ever since Minter was a child, he has had a profound interest in film, which his family nurtured. Minter’s mom, Gaylene Minter, remembers him making films with friends in elementary school, which she admits is common; however, when she saw him come home to edit them on Adobe Premier Pro, which he picked up from his sister, she knew he had a talent.

“He’s creative, loving, kind, thoughtful, super-fun, funny, and very hip,” Gaylene Minter said. “Ryan has always been his own person with his own ideas and for the most part, I have loved and supported it. Ryan’s father and I have always loved watching what he has created and have always been ready to see more.”

In the future, Minter would like to pursue film as a career. His very strong passion for film making, as developed throughout the years, is something he sees himself following. Both Minter and his family hold an optimistic view towards his future as a filmmaker. 

“There is no doubt that Ryan will make some impact on this world through film. Whether it’s political, a documentary, or story telling, Ryan will call a spade a spade and is not afraid to speak his mind,” Gaylene Minter said. “We are so very proud of him and look forward to his bright future.” 

For some students, high school is about finding what subject, sport, or hobby may suit them by experimenting with new things and finding what they are passionate about. These students are in the process of learning more about their interests and goals for the future. However, there are those students who come into high school already aware of their passions and further pursue it throughout their four years. Senior Cherie Sang is one of such students; art has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember.

At a young age, she became involved with the arts purely through interest and joined Johns Creek Art Center classes to further develop her skills with guidance. Although Sang’s interest in art developed very early, she was in fourth grade when her love for drawing came to light, and as a result her parents sent her to a private studio where she would continue art for eight years. Sang is grateful to have gotten the opportunity to go to a private studio as it has given her the opportunity to learn different art skills and various techniques. However, she acknowledges that there wasn’t a free art program when she was younger, and as a result, Sang extended that opportunity to children in the Johns Creek community by creating an art program this past summer. 

Sang is a Girl Scout working towards getting her Gold Award, the highest award a Girl Scout can get. The qualifications are extensive; a Girl Scout has to do a service project that is more than 100 hours of service in order to be considered, so Sang decided to hold free art classes over the summer to provide other children with the opportunities she was fortunate enough to have as a child. Sang was inspired by a program that she is involved in called the Young Artists Program, which offers similar classes during the school year, and she wanted to provide a chance for children to practice art over the summer.

She taught the classes over the course of six weeks, typically once a week and two hours long. Hosted at Johns Creek Books and Gifts, each class taught a different art skill. Even though the classes were only two hours long, the time spent planning for and working on the classes was much greater. Sang would pick out a project a week in advance and order the supplies. Luckily enough, she received some of the supplies as donations from the Ocee Library and the Northview Fine Arts Department. With the supplies, she would arrive to her class location an hour early to set up; teach the class, with the help of the rest of her team and volunteers; and then spend another hour or so cleaning up. The classes were not only enjoyable for the children but also for Sang, as she deeply appreciated the effect her classes had on the children. 

“This little kid really loved my classes and he came to every one of them because he was just really into sketching,” Sang said. “In the last lesson he finished his project pretty quickly, then he disappeared to another part of the bookstore for thirty minutes and came back. Turns out he had made a thank you card that said ‘Thank you for doing this program I really loved it’ and then he handed me the card, and it was pretty sweet.”

Through her program, Sang saw her students become more appreciative of art and more proud of their own work. She even saw herself in one of her student’s determination, spirit, and passion for art. 

Being a Girl Scout has been a positive experience for Sang. She appreciated learning the Girl Scout values and promise when she was little and has continued to keep them close to her throughout her time at Northview. She believes her Gold Award is a culmination of her growth as a leader in her extracurriculars and community. 

Sang is not only a talented artist, but she is also an academically gifted student. She has a strong desire to learn and asks quality questions that demonstrate her passion to have a deeper understanding of the material. Her teachers regard her as confident, motivated, and a leader inside and outside of the classroom. Raymond Brown, Sang’s former AP US History teacher, values her strength and boldness, and that she tries to outdo herself instead of others. Brown has seen her growth as an artist and individual, and is excited to see what she will be doing in the future. 

“She is not afraid to be herself which is just so cool and so refreshing from a student,” Brown said. “She believes in herself and knows her abilities.” 

Her art teacher of four years, Jeannette Clawson, has grown to count on Sang’s judgment. Clawson has always borne witness to natural talent that Sang presents, but she has also seen Sang grow as an artist. Clawson remarks that Sang has developed the ability to create stunning portraits that capture a subject’s whole personality so much further than what the art actually shows. Mainly, Clawson has seen Sang grow as leader, even seeing parts of her motivation coming from leadership. As Sang is one of the presidents of National Art Honor Society, Clawson can count on her to lead in a positive and effective way. In class, Clawson has also seen the effects Sang has on her peers with constructive criticism. Sang acts as an active and thoughtful contributor in class and is accepted and welcomed by her peers. 

“She has established herself as a valuable peer mentor and member of our student art community,” Ms. Clawson said. “She is really positive, driven, open, and honest with her peers when she gives positive and negative to their works.”

In addition to her impact on her teachers at school, Sang’s parents have been extremely supportive of her passion for art throughout the years, starting with when they enrolled her in the private studio. Her mother, Jane Sang, is extremely proud of her for completing her Gold Award Project and regards her daughter as an observant and motivated young lady. She believes her daughter’s completion of the Gold Award was beneficial as a leadership experience and hopes that her daughter’s passion for art will continue to make an impact on the community around her.

“I’m glad she loves art,” Jane Sang said. “I hope she keeps her creativity to bring a positive impact to the people and community around her. I just hope she can be the best of herself in the future.”

Even though Sang does not plan on majoring in art when she goes to college, she will always continue creating art. It is a great passion of hers, and she wants to keep it as a hobby for when she grows older.

“I love that art gives me an outlet to pour my creative energy into,” Sang said. “Art is where I found an outlet for myself to express my imagination.”