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We are a history, and special education high school in Bellerose, Queens in New York City. Our school ? The Queens High School for Teaching ? mission is to teach the importance of leadership, empowerment, and accountability.
We are combining our talents in film and editing to create alternative ways to challenge urban youths to incorporate the fine arts into their everyday lives. We have prior, and extensive, business experience in the mass media community and hope to turnkey our skills to our students. Our goal is to establish a program that collaborates with our school's mission. We envision a program that focuses on ?Documentary Studies?. Through filmmaking, our students will reflect on real life urban issues and then create student documentaries. In some cases, students will also be allowed to create fictional work, as long as the film addresses social issues and contains an original voice. These films will raise awareness of the social issues that today's teenagers confront in their daily lives and/or impact the human race.
The objective is that our students will gain skills and values that transcend school walls. Keeping in mind that students learn through different means and modalities, our program will target most learning styles and needs. Specific academic skills will be storytelling, editing written work, public speaking, marketing strategies, and finally, film production and execution. Specific social skills will be relating with peers, adults, and community personale, individual responsibility and integrity, collaborative efforts among each group, and working to meet deadlines. This program will target all eight of Howard Gardner's learning styles. (Linguistic, musical, logical, naturalist, kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and visual)
The program has already held numerous activities and the students have overwhelmingly responded positively. The FINAL project was called: THE BIG PITCH, where each group presented their film idea in front of a panel of judges who in turn either approved or declined to greenlight their film. The objective was to simulate how to sell your idea to studio heads for production. It was a ?Big? success. All 8 teams brilliantly sold their film ideas using the skills they learned throughout the year. Everything from basic storytelling, creative writing, improvisational acting, storyboarding and shooting techniques, production strategies, sound effects, and effective marketing execution were implemented in the BIG PITCH. In the end 4 finalists were chosen. The plan is to hopefully have students produce all 4 films.
Currently, one of our students is planning to do a documentary on children with cancer. The documentary's goal however is not to necessarily focus only on the children but also on students within our school who might be considered oblivious to such issues. The filmmaker has chosen to round up some of the more unruly but very sociable student body and have them audition for a fun production. The filmmaker herself is a popular and charismatic student and is more than capable of garnering support. She plans to interview the selected students and rehearse alongside them. Her objective is to show the before and after affects of these students and how their outlook on prejudices, and life in general, has changed after an intimate experience with children stricken with cancer. She is presently in contact with a nearby children's hospital.
Another student has chosen to begin writing a story that centers on two teenagers who have fallen in love. Unbeknownst to both of them, is that one is Israeli and the other is Palestinian. From the surface they both seem like average teenagers, but as they peel away the layers ? the hardships, and ultimately the realities of the real world make their mutual existence impossible.
These are just two of the many fine examples the program is already working on. Yet these stories can not be told without necessary funding. We are short of many mass media tools needed for this type of program. We have spoken to a Mac (Apple) representative and they gave a discount (already priced in) on the computers and software. We will need the additional funds to cover the balance. We have also created a partnership with a Mac employee to aid in technical support and training when needed.
This equipment is vital to the overall success of the program and would be used by students in our school for years. Hundreds of students would benefit from these materials and the documents that will be made. We are confident that we would be a leading factor in helping to create future film, editing, marketing, and visual artists, but most importantly, we aim to sensitize all students to the many storylines society has to offer and to expose these truths to the masses.
New York City is a perfect place to embark on such a journey. With the assistance of funding, the students will be able to participate in at least two annual festivals, Urban Visuals and DocuJam ? hosted by The Museum of Television and Radio in Manhattan. We have also formed partnerships with CineClub, (a similar student program in London that is already competing in documentary film festivals). As our program grows, we hope to expand our horizons and branch out to more visual artists and businesses to help make this as much as a ?real life? experience for all participants. Being a school that centers on teaching others, we would like to one day create an internship wing with the neighboring film and marketing industry.
We strongly sense that our students will be teaching us about their own experience of real life issues through the powerful medium of film. Which is as it should be in an ideal educational setting - where teacher and student learn and teach one another.
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