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An eye for the camera and the future: Valley Christian’s Caleb Malen works toward video production degree

By Dan Thompson For The Spokesman-Review

Caleb Malen doesn’t consider himself an artistic person, but with video production, it’s different.

“It’s reactive, it’s like … an art I can actually do,” said the Valley Christian School senior. “I’ve always been a little better with technology. I’m usually the one people call on for that.”

Many people have – for all sorts of reasons.

Malen has produced videos for his church, and others for a dance studio, and for a real estate company. He said he has also filmed weddings and has directed a short film. The variety of styles has given him the chance to experiment with different forms of storytelling, to which he has been drawn since he was a kid.

Paul Malen, Caleb’s dad, remembers when his son became interested in stop-motion video production in elementary school.

“He had a short attention span when he was a kid, and somehow he started watching LEGO stop-motion videos, and so he started making them himself,” Paul Malen said. “We’re talking 4- or 5,000-frame videos.”

They were so good, Paul Malen said, that Caleb made one for a talent show at school in third or fourth grade, and then they played it at their church.

In the years following that, Caleb Malen gradually learned how to use different cameras and editing software as well as lighting and audio equipment, trying to learn as much as he could about every aspect of production.

“Just from the get-go, he’s always been interested in film,” Paul Malen said. “(I would ask), ‘Where’d Caleb go?’ He’d be downstairs making these thousands-of-frame movies.”

Like his father did in high school, Caleb Malen has also been a runner during his time at Valley Christian, competing this season in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. He was also the team captain this season.

“It’s a nice stress reliever. It’s fun,” Malen said of running. “It’s really driven by my competitive spirit, because I am very competitive.”

Yet he is also a good mentor to younger students, something that is especially important at a small school like Valley Christian that has anywhere from eight to 16 students in each high school grade, said teacher Michael Drick.

“He’s very dedicated and wants, always, to get better, and wants to know what it takes to get better,” Drick said. “He’s a pretty driven kid, in all aspects of life.”

Drick said his son, an eighth-grader, looks up to Malen because “he’s an unassuming leader. He doesn’t look to lord (his) leadership over others.”

This fall, Malen plans to start pursuing a video production degree at Eastern Washington University, though he also plans to keep producing videos for the client base he has already built up. His goal is to eventually produce videos full time as a freelancer.

He also helps run audio for services at his church, Calvary Chapel Spokane Valley, and he has dabbled in live productions, too.

“Video kind of dominates every aspect of my life,” he said. “I try to do a little bit of everything.”

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