By Bhavana Gopinath –
Ian Randall Kemp, a grade 12 student from Nepean High School has just won Ottawa Public Library’s Teen Tech Video Award. The one-minute video put together by Ian and his friends, Max Sandler and Hannah Zhang (the actor and narrator respectively) won the first prize of an iPad Mini, a SAW Video t-shirt and a SAW Video workshop package.
OPL asked teens to make a short, movie-trailer-style video with an enticing take about any book. Entries were judged on video quality, audio quality, format, originality, creativity, artistic merit, connection with the book, and overall presentation.
The city-wide program attracted 31 entries, of which the top 10 were screened at the award ceremony at Centrepointe Theatre on April 28. The judging panel comprised of seven Teen Service librarians and four Teen Advisory Group members from OPL, and three guest expert judges: a youth facilitator with Youth Active Media, and two experts from SAW Video, including an award-winning 16-year-old filmmaker.
Ian’s video was “haunting and changed one’s perspective about the book,” says Courtney Mellor, Teen Services Librarian, Carlingwood Branch, and a member of the judging panel.
That book is a childhood favorite: Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd, and published in 1947. It features an anthropomorphic bunny saying “good night” to everything — “Goodnight room. Goodnight moon.” The repetitions of “goodnight” and the cadence of the text has lulled many generations of children (and their parents!) to sleep.
A “huge fan” of Goodnight Moon as a kid, Ian’s views changed later. “There was something off about it, something darker underneath when you looked at it again as an adult,” says Ian. Ian’s video picks up on that “something dark” and infuses the book’s famous repetitions of “goodnight” with a menacing aura — now the book doesn’t seem that benign.
“I enjoy exploring people’s fears and unknowns, and love thinking and hearing about what they are afraid of,” says Ian. His subtle way of hinting at menace in the familiar has won him accolades before — he won OPL’s annual Awesome Authors contest in March with a short story about people in the future who plug themselves directly into the Internet, with dire consequences.
He is of course an avid reader. His choice of books range from the usual childhood favorites to Brian Jacques and Gordon Korman, and now include more fantasy and science fiction by Michael Crichton and others. While he absorbs the story, a part of his mind is also trying to decode the writing in terms of plotlines and characterization, and anticipating where the story might go.
Ian is interested in the “science” part of science fiction as a connection with the real world. Aptly, his career choice – management engineering – leans toward the analytical and he is currently awaiting news about his university admission. He’s hoping for University of Ottawa or Waterloo. (“Fingers crossed,” he says.)
Academic pressures will not stop him, says Ian. “It is important to explore the other side, and find hobbies that require you to be creative, or you lack a part of your life,” he says.