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Santa Barbara International Film Festival Offers Red Carpet Trip to County Students

Bunnies fighting crime, elephants teaching yoga and foxes baking bread are not typical animal behaviors that children see during a field trip to the zoo. However, thanks to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s program (SBIFF) Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, nearly 4,000 fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from 30 schools across Santa Barbara County saw zoo animals doing just that in a field trip to view Zootopia.

“Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies is more than a field trip,” said Amanda Graves, Education Director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. “It engages, enriches and inspires youth to follow their dreams –it is an experience that they remember for a lifetime.”

Late nature documentary filmmaker Mike DeGruycreated Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies thirteen years ago in response to cuts in schools’ art programming that he felt left a gap in children’s education. Feeling this move left a gap in children’s education and wanting ensure that all students have the opportunity to experience and learn from the joy of film, he inspired the program which provides Title I schools with free transportation to a movie screening. After the film, students participate in a discussion with the directors of the film to help them better understand the film and what it means to be a filmmaker.

"Mike's Field Trip to The Movies is an amazing opportunity for students to not only go see a movie but to interact with the producers of movies. It is an opening into the world of cinema,” said Louise Dahlquist, a sixth grade teacher at Elwood Elementary school in Goleta. “Students come back eager for discussion and to create stories on a new level.”

In addition to helping students learn, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies encourages teachers to take a creative approach to education and gives them another tool as an educator to reach students and facilitate learning. For example, the program asks teachers to incorporate a study guide into their curriculum before the field trip to help students engage more deeply and approach the film as active viewers.

“Going to the movie theater enhances the film-watching experience especially for children because it gives them the opportunity to view the film with their classmates, teachers, and friends. Seeing a movie on a big screen, in a theater, is magical,” said Graves. “There is something human and important about sharing the experience because it leads to discussion, reflection and innovation in solving issues, and helps us connect to the community.”

SBIFF’s dedication to fostering a sense of community through the arts is exactlywhy the Santa Barbara Foundation continues to sponsor its events and programs. In addition to the sponsorship of Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, the foundation hosted the ‘Welcome’ for the festival’s Film Studies Program, which allows film students from Santa Barbara City College and nationwide to attend three days of the festival for free, thanks to a generous donation by Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin. These programs help foster the next generation of filmmakers and strengthen investment in arts and culture in Santa Barbara County, which is important to building thriving communities.

"Mike's Field Trip to the Movies is one of SBIFF's most beloved programs created to engage youth from undeserved communities in the art of filmmaking. We're so thrilled to have the Santa Barbara Foundation as a generous supporter," explains Roger Durling, SBIFF's Executive Director. "We look forward to continuing our work with the foundation to provide students with an inspiring learning experience, and growing our year-round partnership.”

As SBIFF works to make Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies a year-round program that reaches even more students in the county, the Santa Barbara Foundation is excited about increasing partnership opportunities with SBIFF in areas of youth and arts development so that every child gets to experience learning through the arts, crime-fighting bunnies or not.
North County Headquarters:  (805) 346-6123  |   2625 S. Miller Street, Suite 101, Santa Maria, CA 93455
South County Headquarters:  (805) 963-1873  |  1111 Chapala Street, Suite 200, Santa Barbara, CA 93101