Spy Hop filmmaker Isaac called action during a take from his 2013 film "The Magic Remote." Spy Hop is returning to Moab next week to teach kids how to make movies and video games [Courtesy photo]

Eleven-year old Molly Knowles and her 9-year old brother Liam are moviemakers, and they’re looking to hone their skills when Spy Hop comes to Moab from July 20 through July 24.

Spy Hop: Youth Media Matters, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit organization, will be in town to teach kids how to make movies and video games at a five-day course held at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North.

Spy Hop’s mission is to “mentor young people in the digital media arts to help them find their voice, tell their stories and be empowered to attract positive change in their lives, their communities and the world.”

It will be Molly’s and Liam’s third year signing up for the Monday through Friday, two-hour classes. This year’s offerings include instruction in creating sci-fi films, “film magic” and video game design.

“The kids are excited about it all year long,” mother Jana Knowles said. “The teachers for Spy Hop are great with the kids.”

“They love it,” she added. “They like making movies at home. They get to pick up new skills and ideas on how to make movies.”

Spy Hop musical arts instructor Jeremy Chatelain teaches the film magic class. Last year his class produced three short movies, of two to five minutes each, he said.

The music video class created three music videos, and an introductory video where the student filmmakers introduced themselves.

Students learn to set goals so that they are able to complete a project within a finite time. There’s a lot of hands-on experience, Chatelain said.

“They do everything from writing the script, acting in the films, operating the cameras, holding the boom microphone,” Chatelain said. “For the games, they come up with their own characters, landscapes; they design the music, everything, from top to bottom.”

At home, Molly and her friends and brother take turns acting and operating the camera in front of backdrop called the “green screen” – something they learned of in Spy Hop.

Liam, who likes playing with Legos, created an animation film last year using his Legos.

Various electronic devices have kid-friendly apps that make it easy for kids to create their own movies, Knowles said. She appreciates that her children, who enjoy computers, are doing creative things on the electronic devices.

In Salt Lake City, Spy Hop provides afterschool programs for teenagers. The nonprofit arts and cultural organization works with four media: video game design, music, audio engineering and filmmaking.

According to its website, the term “spy hop” means “1. The act in which a dolphin rises above the water in order to navigate and determine its position in relation to other members of the pod; or 2. To look ahead; or 3. To tune in.”

Spy Hop first came to Moab four years ago to teach some informal programs. This will be the third year in Moab that the organization has taught the courses in its current format. Students receive a total of 10 hours of instruction in various media. At the end of the week, the community is invited to come view the students’ work.

“The screening is on the 25th at Star Hall,” Chatelain said. “It’s fun to screen the movies on a big screen.”

Creations from the video game designing class will also be featured at Star Hall. Like last year, the students’ newly designed video games will be set up on laptops in the foyer area.

“The community could hang out to play video games that the kids made,” Chatelain said. “It is a multi-media showcase of all the stuff they have done over the week.”

Knowles added, “It was really sweet to have that acknowledgment of what they made, and it be seen on the big screen.”

Kids learn it all with Spy Hop

“The kids are excited about it all year long … The teachers for Spy Hop are great with the kids.”

When: July 20-24

Where: Moab Arts and Recreation Center, 111 E. 100 North

Cost: $130 (Scholarships available)

2015 Class Schedule

Sci-Fi Film: Ages 10-12, 9-11 a.m.

Film Magic: Ages 7-9, 1-3 p.m.

Video Game Design: Ages 12-14, 4-6 p.m.

Information: Apply at spyhop.org/moab