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Carmel teen creates award-winning short films

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Traveling in a remote area of West Africa in 2011, Luke Broyles, then 12, wouldn't let anything — not the dust, dry heat nor fear of malaria — distract him from making his movie about the dire need for water in a small desert village.

For one scene, his mother, Donna, held his legs as he leaned out the window of a moving tour bus, holding a video camera upside down from an extension pole.

For another, Luke stood alone on top of a parked bus to capture scenes of life in the village in Mali. He also interviewed village leaders with the aid of a translator.

Luke's documentary, "G," which sounds like the word for water in that area of West Africa, focused on the village's need for the precious resource and earned the young director three film festival awards.

The seventh-grader at Creekside Middle School in Carmel who has built a reputation for making purposeful short films has already earned nearly two dozen awards for his films, The Indianapolis Star reported (http://indy.st/ZFZ0mR ).

And he's just 13.

"I know a lot for 13, but there's a lot more I can know," said Luke, who writes, films, directs, and edits his films with the support of his family and friends.

A premiere was held Saturday in Indianapolis — on Oscars weekend — for "The Creature," Luke's seventh feature film and his first with a sci-fi theme.

The quaint screenings that were once just for family and friends have grown to larger audiences, this past weekend filling the 238-seat auditorium at The Orchard School in Indianapolis.

At the premiere, one of Luke's homemade props, a 3-foot-long alien, was on display. Actors autographed movie posters, fans snapped photos, and a Q&A session with the director followed, much like a Hollywood premiere.

Every year since his first film, Luke has gained a little more fame.

He's earned 20 awards for his films, 16 of them for "Michael," his first documentary about the life of elementary school friend Michael McCarley, who has cerebral palsy. The film, which he submitted at age 11 to the 2010 Heartland Film Festival, was screened as a special presentation during the event's high school film competition. It also received the Schemmel Character Award from the United Cerebral Palsy Association for bringing awareness to the brain and nervous system disorder.

Luke "doesn't get puffed up" when he receives awards, his father, Tim, said, but rather sees the recognition as "more an affirmation that what he's doing is good," and it encourages him to do the next film.

"Michael was a good film that told a story," said Tim Irwin, artistic director for Heartland Truly Moving Pictures, which holds the Heartland Film Festival each fall in Indianapolis. "Michael" is one of three films Luke has submitted for the festival, and he is an avid attendee of the festival's screenings and movie-making seminars.

"Luke is atypical. You don't see a lot of kids that have the drive and the support to be able to make short films the way he does," Irwin said of Luke, the festival's youngest filmmaker. "He's focused on something greater and deeper than just the mundane."

Luke acknowledged he's more focused than most kids his age. He doesn't like making home movies, watching what he says are silly YouTube videos or playing video games. And he doesn't play sports.

He's an only child. He gets good grades in school. He's focused and more observant than most his age. His sixth-grade teacher, Sheri Seifert, calls Luke "conscientious and diligent in any tasks he undertakes."

The boy who wants to make a career of filmmaking feeds his creativity by watching the behind-the scenes featurettes that are often included with DVD movies. His filmmaking career began at age 6, when he was drawn to filmmaking after seeing the dinosaur adventure "Jurassic Park."

"I was a little guarded because he was so young. Then we saw the ideas he had, and we just let him go for it," Luke's mother, Donna, a floral designer, said.

Luke writes his own storylines. He makes his own props. He recruits and stages his actors from the local community. He edits movie sequences using an iMovie app on an iMac computer that he got for his 10th birthday.

For his movie, "Creature," Luke created his "alien" by adding special effects latex and coloring to his own plaster casting mold. Many of the actors in the movie worship with Luke at the Church at the Crossing on Indianapolis' Far Northside, where his father is the pastor of welcoming ministries.

Costs to make Luke's feature films range anywhere from $300 to $3,000, mostly paid for through donations and, more recently, sponsors. He makes commercials for local businesses, using the earnings to cover the cost of his premieres, fund his next projects and sometimes donate to a charity that he selects. Three of his commercials have also aired on local TV.

A segment from "The Creature" premiere will be shown as a special presentation Saturday during the Envision Film Festival, open to high school and college students at Taylor University in Upland. It's the fourth year he's shown his films at the festival, though the work isn't eligible for the competition.

Luke's dad said: "We just kind of follow his dream whenever he wants to try something. We just keep saying 'yes.'"

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com

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