The Summer Visions Film Institute is an award-winning digital filmmaking program with streams for youth 11-13 and 14-19, and this year the young filmmaker are using lab spaces and editing suites at SCA to create collaborative short films. The students are also making good use of the whole building and surrounding neighbourhood as a set for filming. Formed into production teams participates write, shoot, and edit short digital videos that are screened in an awards gala ceremony in September.
The program, now in its 15th year is produced by the Education Department at The Cinematheque and Dream Big Productions at Templeton Secondary. We talked to Liz Schulze, the Education Manager at The Cinematheque to find out more about the program and how it happened that SCA donated the space.
FIND OUT MORE about the program
What skills do the young filmmakers learn at Summer Visions?
Participants learn a wide variety of skills at Summer Visions: everything from the technical skills of camera operation, sound recording and video editing to the collaborative skills of screenwriting, story editing, and working to make creative and technical decisions as a team. Our focus is on helping young people to understand not only how to make short films, but more importantly to understand that everything they put on any screen - big or small - communicates messages and ideas. We want them to learn the language of visual and multi-media storytelling, and to use this language to communicate their own original ideas and stories.
Structured as a peer-mentorship program, what are the backgrounds of your key instructors?
Our instructional staff are all young filmmakers who are excited to share their skills with other young people who share their passion for film and filmmaking. Most are Summer Visions alumni, starting as participants and then rising to become mentors, instructors and even program coordinators, while some others are current or former film students, most from SFU School for the Contemporary Arts. This year we have five SFU students or alumni on staff, about 1/3 of our team!
We live in a media saturated society. Are the instructors surprised by how savvy the young filmmakers are about telling stories via film?
Young filmmakers are often very savvy about telling visual stories, and our mentors are young filmmakers themselves who share our participants' love of media! Our challenge is that it takes one set of skills to understand media, and another set of skills to become a fluent communicator in such a complicated language as film. We find that so often our filmmakers know what they want to say, and connect easily to standard movie storytelling modes, but need support to find original, innovative and new ways to share their ideas. It's our role to help them in this process, moving beyond clichés and into fun, experimental and expressive stories, images and soundscapes.
You take a collaborative approach that mirrors the film industry. Why is this key to the success of the program?
Collaboration is everything to Summer Visions! Feedback from peers and mentors, working together through stress and joy, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from creating something from nothing with a group of people you didn't even know before the program began: these are the things that our participants tell us they love, and ultimately they help young filmmakers learn how the professional world works.
Previous year’s films have been programmed in professional festivals such as Reel2Real and IGN!TE – what has that experience been like for the filmmakers?
It's been really great to have our filmmakers get their work recognized by festivals, and to gain the experience of watching their films on the big screen with a room full of strangers. We've been thrilled that work produced at our program is doing so well, and the filmmakers have been proud and honoured to be included.
Have students in the program gone on to study filmmaking after high school to make a career in film?
Many Summer Visions participants have gone on to universities after high school to make careers in film. Our alumni have gone to Capilano University, Concordia University, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Film School, and even the Canadian Film Centre, and work in film industries across North America.
How vital was it to receive the offer of donated space from SCA?
This year, with the labour dispute/school lock-out, we were faced with cancelling the program for the first time in 15 years. By mid-June, we had over 100 participants registered, many emails from eager (and sometimes almost desperate) parents and participants asking about how the program was going to run, and we didn't quite know. We are so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to continue this program, and the donated space from the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts was crucial! Not are the facilities amazing and perfect for our needs, but the entire staff have been welcoming, generous and have extended us every courtesy and kindness. We cannot say thank you enough, and our participants and their families have also shared their gratitude.