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Ida Makes a Movie

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Ida Makes a Movie

The Kids of Degrassi Street, Episode 1IMAM1.04

First Aired September 12, 1979
Production Code 101
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Ida Makes a Movie is a 1979 short film, the first episode of the series The Kids of Degrassi Street. Intended as a lesson in the value of honesty, it also has the distinction of being the very first episode of the entire Degrassi Franchise. It stars Zoe Newman as Ida Lucas, Allan Melusi as her brother Fred, and Dawn Harrison as Catherine "Cookie" Peters.

Plot

9-year-old Ida Lucas and her 6-year-old friend, Cookie, are having a day in the park on Degrassi Street. Ida is upset by the amount of litter around the park, despite the signs posted. After Ida has the disgusting experience of stepping on someone's discarded sandwich, Cookie (who cannot read) points out another sign, an advertisement for a children's film making contest by the National Film Board of Canada. When Ida reads it to her, Cookie asks if she's going to enter. Ida initially says no, but then, after looking around at the mess, she suddenly gets an idea....

Later that day, Ida goes rooting around in her house's attic for an old movie camera of her father's. She is disheartened to find it broken, but her mother encourages her to go to the camera store and get an estimate on what it would take to repair it. There, Ida gets another shock when she find out that not only will she have to leave it there, but that it will cost about $20 overall, both to repair the camera (which has a broken spring), and to buy a roll of film. Although she leaves it there, Ida does not know where to get that much money.

Ida and Cookie are talking it over later, when Ida's brother Fred, a baseball player, comes home from a game. Fred is angry over having lost the last game of the season, and is scornful of Ida's plans, to say nothing of being unwilling to give her any money. He coldly suggests that Ida earn the money, which she is not sure how to do. But then her mother calls to Ida about the junk she left all over the attic, when she was searching for the camera. She says that she will throw it all away unless Ida cleans it up, which gives Ida another brainstorm: a garage sale.

The sale goes well, to the point where Ida is even able to talk Fred into paying 75 cents for an old soldier's helmet that he finds (even though it's already theirs). Irritated, he calls into question whether Ida even knows how to use a camera, prompting Ida to admit that she has to learn. So when Ida successfully pays for the camera with her funds from the sale, she makes sure to ask the salesman how to use it.

Filming starts, with Ida, Cookie, and even Fred all decked out: Ida has borrowed a fancy-looking beret from her mother ("All directors wear them! I saw it in a book!"), Cookie in a long dress (she is practicing a dance she will do), and Fred refusing to take off his soldier's hat. Ida and Cookie persuade Fred to join the filming, a story about the importance of picking up garbage and keeping things clean. Since it's garbage pick-up day in Ida's neighborhood, Fred will make a show of picking up trash bags and taking them to the curb, while Cookie will dance about and plant little flowers, to "make the yard look nice." A simple enough plan, but it rapidly goes wrong: Fred picks up one of Cookie's dolls by accident, and they get into a tug-of-war over it, on camera. Cookie falls down as the doll is thrown into the garbage truck, and the camera catches that, too. Nonetheless, Ida is sure that the film turned out great, consoling Cookie over the loss of the doll as Fred goes back inside, insisting that no one will want to watch the film.

Two weeks later, Ida gets a letter from the film board (addressed to "Ida T. Lucas"), telling her that her powerful film about "the effect of war on children" has been selected as a finalist, and that she and her family should come to the awards ceremony on the 2nd of September. Ida is thrilled, despite the misunderstanding, while Cookie is bothered by the idea of accepting an award for the film under what seem to be false pretenses, while Ida insists that it's not lying... especially if no one tells.

Ida is talking about the award with her mother, an artist who is making a drawing. Ida tries to conceal the misunderstanding by saying she has lost the letter, but is forced to reveal that she still has it: already, her cover story is falling apart. Her mother reads the letter and expresses surprise (and perhaps, a note of skepticism) that Ida would take on a profound topic like war in her amateur film.

Finally, awards night arrives, but Ida tries to chicken out, claiming that she's sick. (Comically, she claims to have an ulcer, and that she's afraid it's contagious.) Clearly guilt-stricken over her lie of omission, Ida asks her mother a veiled question: if someone misunderstood one of her mother's pictures, but still liked it, is it right to correct them? Her mother insists that it's the right thing to do, especially since she'd be the only person who could reveal the truth. She also reassures Ida that she'll always be proud of her, even if she doesn't win. Suddenly, Ida's "ulcer" miraculously clears up, and she's eager to go to the awards.

At the ceremony, the award is presented by the kindly Mr. Druffle, who announces that Ida's work, on "how devastating war is to children," is the winner. The film is then shown, with Ida and the kids then realizing how, with Fred and Cookie fighting, and him wearing the helmet, the film could be misinterpreted as a powerful anti-war statement. So when Ida reluctantly takes the podium, she tries to decline the award in a fit of conscience, explaining to Mr. Druffle how the mistake came about. Clearly taken aback, by the confession, Mr. Druffle then decides that since she did win the award on merit, and since honesty should be rewarded, that the Board will allow Ida to keep the award anyway. He then encourages a round of applause for Ida's film, on "how to wage war... on garbage."

Trivia

  • The story was adapted from the 1974 children's picture book Ida Makes a Movie written by Kay Chorao. However, since the original story was an anthropomorphic tale whose characters were cats and PWT lacked the budget or skill set for animation, it had to be inexpensively adapted with a human-centric screenplay by Amy Jo Cooper. The movie was produced and directed, in tandem, by Linda Schuyler and Kit Hood, using locations on De Grassi Street in Toronto, where Schuyler lived at the time. Ida's house was a location borrowed from Linda Schuyler's good friend, Bruce Mackey, who would later appear in other episodes of the series. His dog, Rayn, also appears in the film.
  • This was the first episode of the Degrassi Franchise.

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