Lancaster is the school's digital shop teacher. A professional stage actor with a college degree in film direction, whose grandfathers were a mechanic and a carpenter, respectively, Lancaster got into teaching during a "career lull" 17 years ago.
Lancaster and his teaching colleague, Kris Kohlmeier, just earned an Instructional Technology Outreach grant worth $5,000 from the Los Angeles County Office of Education to develop a comprehensive digital video production program.
And Wilson student David Diaz, a 13-year-old seventh-grader, won the outreach program's independent student film award.
The grant provides Lancaster and Kohlmeier with two laptop computers, five digital video cameras, software and training at the American Film Institute in Hollywood.
"We hope to provide another environment for kids to find their voice in a digital domain," Lancaster said. "It's all about telling stories. And the thing I like most about teaching is seeing the lights go on all the time. I might find the next Spielberg."
Lancaster didn't even know about the grant until Glendale Unified School District Assistant Supt. of Educational Technology and Information Services Scott Price suggested he apply.
"He said, 'Do you know anybody who knows about films and digital media?'" said Lancaster. "I said. 'Yeah, me.'"
David made his film, "Special Barking Friends," when he was a sixth-grade student at Glenoaks Elementary School while taking a gifted students after-school class taught by Katie Warren and Marine Avagyan.
"The whole challenge was to do something about your heroes and the dogs came to my mind," said David, whose dogs Buddy and Little D were the focus of his film. Thieves attempted to break into David's home and the dogs barked until they went away.
"I was surprised when I won," David said. "There were so many good entries."
David used his own pictures, created a storyboard and his own sound effects and wrote and performed the voice-over, Warren said.