Teachers and students, visibly stoked on the Reel Delicious project.
  • Teachers and students, visibly stoked on the Reel Delicious project.
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If they can raise $35,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, a group of high school students and their teachers want to purchase a food truck and retrofit it to include mobile film screening alongside basic food productions. They’ve dubbed the project “Reel Delicious,” presuming that the chorizo fried rice and empanadas on the menu will be exactly that.

Empanadas from the Reel Delicious menu

“We’ve got a projector that we can stick on the top [of the truck] to project films onto sides of buildings,” says Daisy Sharrock, one of the High Tech High teachers organizing the Reel Delicious project, with colleagues Liz Perry and Patrick McMahon, and about 52 students, who have been learning the ins-and-outs of mobile food as a kind of hands-on primer in small business theory.

If all goes according to plan, the project should come to fruition in early March, convenient to the Latino Film Festival. They aim to use the truck at high school sports events and movie nights, perhaps operating it during school lunch hours. They also want to partner with the local film festivals that have lent their support to the Reel Delicious project, so that the truck would become an optional venue for local festivals, such as the Latino and Asian Film Festivals, to screen short films.

“In the back of the Digital Gym in North Park, they have like 30 bolted down seats and a blank wall. There’s a spot where the gate opens up, so we could literally drive the food truck straight in, show films on the wall, and it would be a perfect evening event. Things like that would be very doable. We also have a flatscreen TV that we can put on the side of the truck,” says Sharrock.

“The Latino Film Festival gave us some shorts that they have the rights to,” says Sharrock “We’d be open to showing films from film programs at local universities. We’d even like to create a [high school] student film festival, and solicit films from other schools.

“Our hope is that it can find a number of different uses throughout the year.”

In the long run, Sharrock would like to see Reel Delicious at the center of a media literacy program that can be exported to schools, both under and outside of the umbrella of the High Tech High charter system.

“The idea would be to show short films, serve food, and discuss what’s being presented in the media,” she explains.

Students doing AV work on the Reel Delicious project.

There is some proof of concept for the idea, as Sharrock explains:

“The Asian Film Festival actually has a mobile movie truck that they’re adapted already. They don’t serve food, just movies. We actually didn’t know about that truck when we started the project.”

Keep in mind that the Reel Delicious project won’t be modeled after conventional small business. The Kickstarter campaign is run as not-for-profit, so contributions are tax deductible, and the ultimate aim is to create a school/community resource for film and media literacy. The cash flow goal is to have food sales cover operational costs (calculated with help from Eco Caters’ chef Nick Brune) just enough that the truck can be operated without further investment. Since nobody’s livelihood is on the line, the onus is on simplicity and longevity, not paying the bills.

“Some [Reel Delicious operations] would be done during school hours. Some would be outside of school hours, like sporting events, but it won’t be a 9-5 job that the kids would be doing daily, or anything like that,” says Sharrock. With a fresh group of students always coming up to replace graduating classes, there’s no reason the truck can’t be run and staffed for a long time, screening films and slinging tacos by the light of the projector.

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