OGDEN -- In 1967 not many high school students were making movies, but they were at Weber High School.
Bill Higley's former students plan to spend Saturday honoring him and watching some of those old movies with family and friends at the Weber County Library.
Higley started teaching at the "old" Weber High School on 12th Street and Washington Boulevard in 1966. The old building wasn't really conducive to grand theatrical productions, so Higley decided to go a different route and start making movies with his students.
Earlier this week, some of his former students laughed as they reminisced with Higley about those movie-making days.
"He was truly ahead of his time," said former student James Elmer, who starred as Tarzan in a spoof of the original Tarzan movie. "No high school was doing movies around the region. He was so different and innovative."
"That's a part of why it was so fun," said another former student, Joan Hirschi.
Higley's first production was a short Western that was just two reels spliced together. The students loved it so much, Higley decided to go bigger. He bought a Super 8mm camera that was a larger movie camera, more professional than the Standard 8mm cameras that most people used.
Higley said he would get ideas for the movies and write the scripts in his head. One of his students, Randy Campbell, sort of served as tech support and helped put everything together technically. The two used the name Higley/Campbell Productions and put that credit at the beginning of each film.
Campbell put four of the films that Higley and the students created on a DVD that will be available for purchase Saturday. Higley and Campbell also produced other movies outside of school that were shown at "The Colony" a boutique in downtown Ogden at the time. They were also shown at Lagoon, Campbell said in a written tribute to Higley.
The students remembered shooting a motorcycle scene, where they took still shots for about two hours to create the appearance that the motorcycle was moving quickly. Higley showed how slowly they worked as he walked across the room, while his former students laughed at the memory.
"We spent a lot of time on that," Higley said, smiling.
Higley choked with emotion when he spoke of the talent he saw in his students all those years ago. Higley encouraged Elmer to write a one-act play, which wound up winning a regional award and was nominated at state.
"We beat Ogden High School at region, which was unheard of at that time," Elmer said.
The play opened many doors for Elmer and helped him to earn scholarships.
"A lot of that credit goes to Mr. Higley," he said, motioning to his former mentor.
Higley taught at Weber High School for about seven years and then taught at Bonneville High School for a couple of years. He has spent many years volunteering and working at the Weber County Library as a storyteller and mime. He also travels to schools in the area, telling stories and miming as well as participating at Weber State University's storytelling festival.
Youth Services Manager Phoebe Carter has worked with Higley for many years because he has worked in the youth department in the library.
"He gets requested to teach classes," Carter said.
She likes the way he works with the children and how the children respond to him.
As other students came in to see Higley, he greeted them warmly and they quickly went back to the late '60s and early '70s and all the fun they had together.
"We had a real camaraderie together," Hirschi said of the high school days. "It was fun to go to class, and everyone wanted to be a part of it."
Saturday's event will start at 2:30 p.m. and run until 3:45 p.m. at the Ogden main branch of the Weber County Library, 2464 Jefferson Ave. Five of the movies will be shown in the auditorium, and all former students and families are invited to attend.