In the spotlight
Mamou High School senior Kade Chatelain works on a laptop inside the school’s library known as “The Den.” In the past two and half years, Chatelain has written, produced and directed 33 videos which can be found on the Facebook page MHS Vids. More than a few of the videos have been viewed thousands of times. (Gazette photo by Raymond Partsch III)
Mamou High School senior Kade Chatelain holds the championship plaque that he won at the recent National Beta Club state competition in Baton Rouge, while standing with MHS principal Liz Rene, who also happens to be his mother. (Gazette photo by Raymond Partsch III)
By: RAYMOND PARTSCH III
MAMOU – Kade Chatelain uncovered his passion for filmmaking while trying to kill some time.
The Mamou High School senior football letterman had suffered an injury during his sophomore season back in 2014. The injury sidelined him for a few weeks as he was held out of both practice and games.
Like any other teenager, Chatelain began to grow bored with not being able to play the sport he loved until he came across a piece of equipment in the fieldhouse.
“I had jammed my thumb into a big dude during a game and I was out for a few weeks,” Chatelain said. “I didn’t have anything to do and I couldn’t really contribute to the team besides going to the games and cheering them on. So one day I just grabbed the old camcorder that was used for recording the games and I just started recording little shots of them catching the ball or running around the cone during practice.”
That day playing around with the camcorder sparked a immense passion inside Chatelain. In the weeks that followed, he would proceed to download the editing software Windows Movie Maker to his laptop so he could then edit the shots he had recorded.
Chatelain then even added a musical sound track to the two-and-half minute clip. Chatelain thought it was pretty good so he showed to Mamou High Principal Liz Rene, who just happens to be Chatelain’s mother.
“I showed it to my mom and she thought it was really good too,” Chatelain said. “So we put it out on the hallway TV by the offices and you would swear that it was this big movie coming out. The whole hallway was crowded. Everybody was so excited to see themselves on the screen.”
“We gave out a lot of tardies that day,” laughed Rene.
From that first day, the 17-year-old Chatelain embraced becoming an amateur filmmaker, as he taught himself how to shoot and edit videos by watching tutorials on YouTube and learned how to use the right tone with voice overs. He first just stayed with shooting athletics before venturing out to other activities.
“I told myself that I could do more than sports,” Chatelain said. “I could do clubs and advertisements.”
In the nearly two and half years since that first video, Chatelain has written, produced and directed 33 videos which can all be found on the Facebook page MHS Vids.
The videos, which are now shot on a digital Nikon camera and not a camcorder, that Chatelain has created includes a wide array of themes including a PSA on Daylight Savings Time, one on MHS earning a performance score of an A, the remodeling of the school’s library known as “The Den,” a “Snickers Satisfies” parody with the football team and a Mannequin Challenge, where students and teacher remain frozen in action like a mannequin.
The PSA on Daylight Savings Time is one that Chatelain came up with on the fly.
“I told my teacher the day before about my idea but not the students,” Chatelain said. “I walked in the next day with my camera and just asked who wanted to be in the video and then told them all to lay their heads down on their desks. They did it perfectly. Some even put books on their heads. It made the atmosphere a little funnier before classes started.”
The videos have been viewed thousands of times, and have helped create a positive image for the school.
“It has done so much for the school,” Rene said. “It definitely has been the main player in unifying the faculty and student body, as well as the community. I would largely credit the school’s image in the community to those videos.”
The videos have also made a star of sorts of Chatelain’s mom, who appears as a regular actor in his video productions.
“I went to Lafayette and I was checking out at Hobby Lobby,” Rene said. “And this person says ‘you look so familiar, aren’t you the principal in all those videos?’ I mean at the point I was like ‘wow.’”
The videos also helped provide some positivity for Chatelain and his teammates. The football team has not won a game since the 2014 season, and with that kind of losing streak morale tends to dip during the season.
“It has definitely been something positive for the program,” Mamou football coach Brian Brumfield said. “It did give the kids the opportunity to see themselves in a different light. A lot of the time we haven’t been a successful program but here Kade is highlighting the football program and it gave them something positive to look at. It was something uplifting for the team.
“It especially made an impact when the kids saw it up on Facebook,” Brumfield added. “The kids were excited to have that opportunity to watch the videos online like that.”
“That’s probably one of the reasons why I did it,” Chatelain said. “I thought it would cheer up the team and it did. So that inspired me to keep doing them.”
Chatelain’s work may have given the football team a much-needed boost but that doesn’t mean that he was allowed to skip out on his responsibility as a player, especially considering the all-district honoree played offensive line, defensive line, tight end and even punter.
“I showed up to practice one day with a tripod and a camera,” Chatelain said. “One of my teammates needed a highlight film to show to some colleges. So I told him yeah, sure I can do it. So I start getting setup on the field to shoot some video and the coaches were like, ‘what are you doing? You need to go get dressed for practice.’ I was like yeah ‘I am playing football.’”
“I used to do a little videography myself and I would give him a few tips from time to time but that could possibly help him,” Brumfield said. “So I support his passion but that day he was just focused in on that and I had to tell him that he had to play football too. We only had to do that once though. He is a good kid.”
Chatelain has also had to learn how to balance an already extrememly busy schedule with his videography projects. In addition to playing football, Chatelain also comeptes on the track and field team, is a member of both Future Business Leaders of America and National Beta Club, works part-time at Mamou Health Resources, takes Advanced Placement (AP) classes and still maintains a 3.6 GPA.
“Yeah its been a challenge,” Chatelain said. “I have two classes from 8 to 11 and then from there I go to work until 4. But on Friday I don’t work so when I get out of class I get with a few seniors or teachers and start setting up shots for a new video. That usually takes until the bell rings at 3 o’clock.”
Chatelain’s mother though couldn’t be more proud of her son.
“I definitely believe in a well rounded young adult,” Rene said. “I encourage the creativity. With all the effort he has put in these videos and still be able to maintain everything with his athletics and academics shows a level of responsibility that he has. I think he has handled it wonderfully.”
Chatelain’s passion for film though has also helped him excel in one of those clubs. After placing fourth in the state BETA Club competition last year, Chatelain recently took first place at this year’s event and has qualified for nationals to be held this summer at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
“For our competition, I gave the students the rubric but Kade came up with the idea on his own,” BETA Club Sponsor Renee Gotreaux said. “He gave me a few ideas and then bam he had his video done.
“Any type of video we want to have made here at the school he is the first one we call on. Anytime we make our teacher videos he starts coming up with ideas. He likes and appreciates the feedback.”
Chatelain, who will be honored for his BETA Club award at the next Evangeline Parish School Board meeting, is gearing up for one of his final productions, this year’s graduation which will feature some extensive green screen work, as well as taking senior pictures for free for some of his classmates. He has also re-edited a wedding video for a friend of the family and will shoot video for his first wedding this September.
So one would assume that Chatelain is headed off to college for filmmaking, but they would be wrong. Chatelain will be attending University of Louisiana-Lafayette in the fall to pursue a degree in Exercise Science, and plans on after that, attending physical therapy school.
“It is a great career and all that but its just not practical,” Chatelain said. “But it is great as a hobby. I mean when I first started I thought it was going to be a simple little thing but it ended up becoming something far larger.”