create / 2014
Educating traditionally underserved youth about working in the entertainment industry
Please describe yourself.
Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)
In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.
The idea is to create an institution that will groom the next generation of entertainment industry professionals in film and radio.
Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?
- Central LA
- East LA
- South LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- San Fernando Valley
- South Bay
What is your idea/project in more detail?
This project is intended to acquaint traditionally underserved youth with the possibility of a career in the L.A. area entertainment industry. We will do this in two different ways. First, we will offer a program in which the students are taught about the various work roles that exist both on the set and behind the scenes, everything from the lighting technician to the studio accountant. Secondly, we will continue and expand on our programs in which we help students to develop their own creativity through storytelling, following which they apply the stories they have developed to script writing and then to the process of turning a script into an actual film. Students will get the chance to study under well known industry professionals.
What will you do to implement this idea/project?
We will teach youth from all over the Los Angeles area about the business of the entertainment industry, including workshops introducing all of the various jobs both on the set, on location, and behind the scenes. We will also continue our intensive workshops on story telling, radio producing, and film production, but extended to youth from all over the L.A. area.
Using volunteers from the industry, we will acquaint students with what it is like to work in the entertainment field, how to apply for a job, and what training is necessary. We will also assist in job or internship placement.
These activities will be integrated with our film festival, San Pedro International Film Festival. Student films will be screened during the annual festival and students will meet with and interview active professionals. This provides the participants with a full experience from creation of a film or documentary to the end user experience. Students will also come to understand the differences between old school filmmaking and the evolving online video culture.
Art in Motion, Inc. (AIM), which organizes the San Pedro International Film Festival (SPIFF) and the youth training programs, is in the LA harbor area. We have access to several theatres including the historic Warner Grand. We also have access to harbor area locations, including the Battleship Iowa and the “tall ship” sailing vessels owned by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute. Students develop a new found fascination with location filming when trying to figure out how to shoot a scene on the upper deck of a battleship.
Students from all over the Los Angeles area will be invited to come to San Pedro to participate in our programs.
One thing that sets AIM apart is our access to entertainment industry professionals. In fact, we have television actors, directors, and film editors who work on an unpaid, volunteer basis. We are also unique in having collaborated on a low power FM radio license, won in a recent FCC sponsored competition, and allowing us to teach radio broadcast skills in a live setting.
We believe that traditionally underserved youth have a right to believe in their own futures. It is our job to assist them to discover their own creativity and to develop their own expressive skills.
How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CREATE today? In 2050?
By creating the next generation of world class storytellers. With this program, we will be establishing a learning space for underserved youth who cannot afford or are not yet ready to go to film school. Much of what we will be teaching does not require an expensive film school education, and was traditionally absorbed as an element of studio employment. Those days are gone, but we can emulate the original process as much as possible. It’s learning by doing.
The future of the entertainment industry depends on how well the creators of tomorrow can adapt to ever changing technology and the decreasing amount of time available to keep an audience interested. Los Angeles has historically been the film and media capital of the world, but in order for it to retain this distinction, we must utilize the talent of the professionals to train our next generation of world-class storytellers who come from all parts of LA and from different socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities. For the last decade, Los Angeles has been losing jobs and productions to other parts of the US and to other countries, to the point that we must stop the outflow of jobs and retain our talent and money right here in LA. Los Angeles needs to be and remain the film capital. We hope to make this workshop/institute into a sought after program not only for local youth but for international students as well.
Whom will your project benefit?
The most direct beneficiaries of the program are the students themselves, but we hope that in addition, the local economy will ultimately benefit as well. One effect of bringing students to culture is to stimulate them to become consumers of culture. The fallout of this is to benefit museums, the live theater, and serious films. We are also hopeful that the local entertainment industry will benefit by finding a pool of talented professionals who come from traditionally underserved and minority communities. The ultimate effect is on those communities themselves, as they have suffered high levels of unemployment historically. Of course we also expect that the local community will benefit immediately from the creative works made by the students which will be presented in public showings. The ultimate beneficiary of an industry that remains robust and authentically local over the next 4 decades is our entire economy.
Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.
We have a history of collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of San Pedro, which has joined us in our Youth Intensive Filmmaking Workshops. We work with entertainment industry professionals who enjoy teaching and coaching. We have concentrated on accentuating the story telling aspect of the creative endeavor, which is new to these students. We intend to extend our collaboration to youth organizations and schools from other, traditionally underserved areas of the city. The LA2050 grant will allow us to extend training to these students, and will provide a modest amount of seed money which we will use to develop a permanent presence.
We have also collaborated with local organizations including the Pacific Battleship Foundation, which has graciously allowed us to use the Battleship Iowa for student training. We also have a collaboration with the L.A. Maritime Institute, a group which owns two sailing ships and which trains students in how to sail them. They have also graciously allowed us to use their ships.
Art in Motion runs an annual film festival and has an ongoing relationship with the Grand Vision Foundation, which allows us use of the Grand Annex Theater for doing student training and for presenting formal screenings.
We are currently in the process of recruiting a radio professional to do teaching of the FM production and broadcast curriculum, should we develop the funding to acquire equipment.
In our collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club, it is critical that our schedules mesh properly. This seems like it ought to be an easy thing to deal with, but we find that we have to be careful about planning well in advance. We also find that when two organizations each supply different pieces of equipment, we have to make sure in advance that all items will mesh properly. This isn’t exactly deep sociology, but when a whole class is depending on the faculty getting things right, we have to be sure to get them right.
There are different factors when it comes to owners of sailing ships and other nautical items. Most importantly, we cannot schedule training on a ship if it is out to sea on the day of our class.
The most critical issue with regard to collaborations is that both sides are aiming towards the same goals, and that both sides are able to agree to the overall process. We have concentrated on collaborations with organizations that are genuinely interested in youth education, and we find that it has worked well for all of us
How will your project impact the LA2050 “Create” metrics?
- Employment in creative industries
- Arts establishments per capita
- Minority- and women-owned firms
- Recruiting and retention rates at local higher education institutions (Dream Metric)
- Percentage of graduates from local higher education institutions that remain in LA County 5 years after graduating (Dream Metric)
Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.
By introducing avenues of entry to the entertainment industry to traditionally underserved youth, we hope to see an increase in their numbers in radio, television, and film, both in front of the camera and behind the scene. Some of this will come sooner, but the ultimate aim is to make this project into a long term process, and for some of our graduates to make lifelong careers in the industry.
By introducing culture and the fine arts to traditionally underserved youth, we hope to stimulate a long term interest on their part in the fine arts. We would like to see them visit the local museums, attend plays, and partake of their own creativity through film, drama, the visual arts, or music, as detailed in our plan and budget.
We should point out that participants in our previous workshops have included a substantial fraction of female and minority members, and we have no reason to expect that this will change in the future. Thus we expect to stimulate the participation of women and minorities in the creative arts and the entertainment industry.
By stimulating interest in the arts, we can also hope to stimulate future creation of arts establishments in the L.A. area, whether they be art galleries, theater companies, or television production companies. The more of these that L.A. generates, and the higher the demand for their products, the more global economic influence Los Angeles will have.
Finally, getting our youth to participate in cultural activities of any kind will have a beneficial effect on motivating them to stay in school, to enter college, and to persevere. To the extent that the Los Angeles area retains its preeminence as a world artistic capital, the more of our creative people will remain in the area after 5 years and, indeed, throughout their lives.
Please explain how you will evaluate your project.
Evaluation of this kind of project includes both objective and subjective measures.
Objective measures will include the number and variety of workshops presented, the number of students who participate, and the measure of projects started and completed by the students. We will also keep track of field trips to museums and other cultural assets, and will report on them.
There is an additional subjective element that also is worthy of notice. We will invite the students to self-report, both at the beginning and at the end of their experiences. Students will be invited to report on their gain in skills, in any increased appreciation of the fine arts or film, and any change in the kinds of art or culture that they find interest in.
We also believe that it’s important to get feedback from our instructors, both in terms of how they think we can improve our own performance, and whether they have gained any new insights into instruction and in stimulating cultural appreciation. We will also track the number of students placed successfully in internships and jobs.
What two lessons have informed your solution or project?
The first lesson is very positive. We have had remarkably generous cooperation from local organizations and attractions, including the Battleship Iowa organization and the LA Maritime Institute. We have developed a very good relationship with the Boys and Girls Club of San Pedro. Finally, we have been extremely fortunate to have volunteers from the entertainment industry, who not only have taught in our workshops, they have pushed us to continue the tradition. In short, we find that there is no shortage of gifted people and volunteers who have proved themselves to be able mentors of our students.
The other lesson is less positive, but important. We have found that fundraising is a laborious, time consuming process which involves a lot of personal time and many meetings. Interestingly, this process has resulted in the increased acceptance of Art in Motion as a valued member of the community. It has also forced us to focus on what we can do, and to plan more carefully for what we would like to do. In the future, we’d like to be able to retain a professional fundraiser and grant-writer to help with this process.
Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.
The proposed project can be completed in 12 months as specified. We have merely to continue what we have already been doing in terms of education and training, but to increase the numbers of workshops and to add one new topic. We have been wanting to do this, and the grant would make it possible. We don’t expect to stop what we are doing after the year is over, either. Rather, we intend to use the next year as the stepping stone to a robust, institutionalized process which will continue for years to come. As we point out elsewhere in this application, we don’t intend to use the grant funds to do our own fundraising, but developing the expanded program will benefit the community in a way that cannot but help us to be recognized by the more traditional donors.
Our first steps are to create an awareness of the program at schools and other youth organizations in the LA area. This will require expanding our online presence, advertising as well as reaching out directly to these organizations. As mentioned before, this program is an extension of what we have achieved the last two years and expanding our scope to include radio production. A curriculum will be created and implemented. We will also identify the venues required and confirm them. A timeline will be established and adhered to.
Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?
The fact that a video has been shot does not mean that the film is complete and ready for presentation. Although our programs have traditionally concentrated on the sequence that begins with developing a story and continues through the acting and the videography, we have not generally taken the students through an exhaustive course in film editing. We understand full well that this is an important part of the whole project, and we recognize that we will need to add some training in computerized editing. We have made provisions in this application for the minimal required level of equipment, and we have able instructors who can bring the students along to an adequate level of skill at the beginner level. We should point out that there are lots of jobs in the entertainment industry which do not require film editing skills. Nevertheless, we feel that this is a skill and an art that is at least worthy of mention and of a modest level of training.
It is always being said that working with teenagers can be a stressful endeavor. For some reason, we have not experienced behavioral issues. Perhaps this has been due to the high number of adults of both genders that we have always had present. Perhaps it has just been a matter of self selection, where only the students who are serious about learning something sign up. In any case, we will continue to make sure that there is always an adequate level of adult supervision. Putting it bluntly, we have a substantial number of parents and chaperones present at all times.
The biggest challenge is finding the time to teach a substantial amount of technique, both at the level of acting/directing and at the level of shooting and composition. These are all elements of the filmmaker’s craft, and we have had to make choices about which elements to accentuate and which elements to be less demanding about. We hope to add extra hours to the core curriculum in order to beef up some of the required elements, but choices and tradeoffs are a part of teaching as in life.
We anticipate the usual level of difficulty as we develop the new part of the curriculum. As in other teaching (at least one of our staff is an experienced college teacher) we expect to learn from our mistakes and to improve our own performance as we go along.
What resources does your project need?
- Network/relationship support
- Money (financial capital)
- Volunteers/staff (human capital)
- Publicity/awareness (social capital)
- Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)
- Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)
- Community outreach
- Quality improvement research