Skeleton School

My latest project, Skeleton School, is the ultimate labor of love. 

Last September, I finally wrapped production on a short documentary chronicling a tenuous levy campaign in the small rural town of Kamiah, Idaho.

My husband and I lived in Kamiah from the summer of 2017 to 2019. He was a teacher at the Kamiah School District at the time, and I was a substitute teacher while I freelanced as a media consultant. 

A movie poster with an aerial view of a school shows the title "Skeleton School."
Skeleton School has been submitted to several film festivals around the country, most of which are virtual.

I immensely enjoyed my time as a substitute teacher, more than I ever thought I would. I found my niche among secondary students, mostly subbing for middle school and high school, assisted with after school programs, and volunteered with school clubs.

To me there is something endearing and magical about how kids and teens are at the beginning of their whole lives. Their optimism and creativity is inspiring, and it is a joy to help them discover different skills and ways to navigate the world. 

What broke my heart was walking through the classrooms of this rural school and realizing, even though I too went to a rural school, these kids didn’t have nearly the resources I did. 

Opportunities for rural youth like sports, extracurricular activities, or even basic books continue to be a challenge for many rural school districts. This short documentary is a slice of life following teachers and staff anxiously awaiting a vital school levy in a divided rural community.

I did my best to remove myself from the story, and allow both sides to have their say. It’s important to realize that all stories have many voices. But I was part of the community of the town and the school, which gave me the relationships and the access to paint a picture of real people going through a hard challenge.

Although I’m a writer for a university by day, Muse Media serves as an outlet not just to freelance, but to produce my own creative media projects. For a short while during my time in Kamiah, I had a downtown office and art gallery.

a class of eighth graders stand in a gallery with grey walls and art hanging on the walls. They all smile towards the camera, and an adult woman holds a dog and is smiling too.
Ms. Hopkins’ eighth grade language arts class visited Muse Media to see our What Does Equality Mean to You Exhibition in the spring of 2019. The students saw art made by artists all over Idaho, in a variety of different mediums.

The film was filmed, edited, and narrated by me, and I’ll be forever grateful to my friends who sat through screenings, and my mentor Jon Palfreman. 

Since post-production finally wrapped in September of 2020, Skeleton School has been selected and shown and even as a finalist in several festivals. After the final notification date of September 01, 2021, I will make the documentary available publicly on YouTube and Plex

If anyone out there would like to arrange a screening or showing of Skeleton School for their organization, get in touch by emailing me at lauren@musemediaco.com. The trailer is below, and the full film will be available to view on September 30, 2021. Those interested in screening the film for an event can contact me for an exclusive early screening. 

For now, here is a sneak peek at what to expect. 

Muse Media Co. presents: Skeleton School

Selected for festival:

Venice Shorts
Montreal Independent Film Festival
Toronto International Women Film Festival
SHORT to the Point

Selected & named as finalist:

New Wave Short Film Festival
Tokyo International Short Film Festival
Roma Short Film Festival

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