ROCK ISLAND — Vincent Freiburg, a Rock Island High School junior, loves filmmaking. He’s among local teens who got experience this week helping to produce a promotional video for a nonprofit group founded by fellow Rocky students.
“I have always wanted to be a filmmaker and am thinking about going to school for it,” Vincent said Thursday during a break in a Fresh Films spring break project at QC Closet2Closet in the former Seaford Clothing building at 2613 5th Ave., Rock Island.
QC Closet2Closet provides local preteens and teens in foster care or who are homeless with free age-appropriate, quality apparel and accessories donated by community partners.
“This just opened my eyes to every single, little detail that we have to pay attention to, to make the perfect movie,” Vincent said.
He did a one-day Fresh Films camp about a month ago at Augustana College, where the company is based. “I just loved it, and I had to do it again,” he said.
“I make some videos, and I have a lot of ideas,” he said. “This is a good time to learn how to apply those ideas.”
The week-long project is free to participating junior high and high school students, producing an expected two-minute promotional video and a 30-second public-service announcement for the nonprofit organizations.
“I think it’s awesome; all the sides benefit,” Vincent said. “Fresh Films gets exposure, and we get to learn a lot. It’s inspiring to get to do all this. It gives us confidence in our own abilities.”
Twin sisters Amy and Amber Haskill, Rocky juniors, run Closet2Closet with their adopted mother, Alli. The girls spoke in front of the camera Thursday. They were adopted in 2010 after four years in foster care.
“It’s very important to have Fresh Films make this film for us because, with this, it’s going to be ours forever, which is nice. We never really had something we could actually show,” said Amber. “We’ve had videos before, but we couldn’t keep them.
“Fresh Films is giving this to us for free, and it’s something we can promote our organization and get more people in,” she said. “We hope this raises awareness, that we want more kids to come in and shop with us.”
Closet2Closet is renovating space in the Seaford building to open as a public store in late April. Since its founding, it has worked with volunteers to deliver care packages to foster kids in need, based on requests from social workers, Amber said. Each package includes 20 items — roughly seven outfits — including shoes, accessories and toiletries.
“We’re trying to get off care packages, and want kids to come shop and see the people who are supporting them, so a child can pick out their own clothes,” Amber said. “Often when children move, they often move right from school, from their house the next day, with no notice, and usually the things they receive are old clothes, and not our style —kids’ styles.”
Kids can request items multiple times, said Amy. Most items have been donated, she said, and the organization sometimes buys needed sizes as well as socks and underwear, which must be new.
The sisters said Fresh Films’ work is vital since it will help raise awareness of foster care and needs of those kids.
“It helps a problem that’s overlooked; people don’t know it was an issue,” Amber said.
Based on her experience, she said she is gratified to help similar children in need and give them a better sense of self-esteem.
“We put a lot of elbow grease into this,” she said. “I can tell you, and the volunteers can tell you, it’s really hard. But it’s something that you get happy and excited about, because you’re actually helping children that need it.”
She also credited the Fresh Films’ students for helping the community.
“They let us pretty much do everything in the process of filmmaking,” said J.T. Kitterman, an eighth grader at Washington Junior High School in Rock Island.
“I’ve watched my dad do this all his life. It’s pretty neat,” said Georgi Feigley, daughter of Fresh Films co-founder Estlin Feigley and an eighth grader at Sudlow Intermediate School in Davenport.
“It’s been fun,” she said. “It’s really cool to watch kids do it, instead of adults, who have no experience at all and they get something out of it.”
Mr. Feigley, who helped guide the students in filming with his cinematographer, said this week’s other project was with Creative Arts Academy kids for the Food Rescue Partnership. The videos will be edited and finished in the next month or so, he said.
A 1993 Augustana alum, Mr. Feigley and his wife, Kelli, run Fresh Films, formerly based in Chicago and now at Augustana. It bills itself as “the largest national platform for teen filmmaking.”