News Column

SFU Helps Young Filmmakers' Summer Program

August 11, 2014



BURNABY, British Columbia, Aug. 11 -- Simon Fraser University issued the following news

An annual filmmaking program for youths was almost cancelled due to the B.C. teachers' strike this summer but continues to flourish thanks to the Simon Fraser University School for the Contemporary Arts.

The Summer Visions Film Institute, which is run by Vancouver'sThe Cinematheque and Dream Big Productions, is a digital film program for youths aged 11-19 years old. It is usually held at Templeton secondary, but the program was in jeopardy this year because the school is closed during the labour dispute.

"We were faced with the possibility of cancelling the program for the first time in 15 years," explained Liz Schulze, education manager for The Cinematheque. "By mid-June, we had over 100 participants registered, many e-mails from eager (and sometimes almost desperate) parents and participants asking about how the program was going to run, and we didn't quite know."

And that's when the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts stepped up and offered the use of its facilities at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts in downtown Vancouver, allowing the program to continue.

This means 120 youths this summer will learn everything from the technical skills of camera operation, sound recording and video editing to the collaborative skills of screenwriting, story editing, and making creative and technical decisions as a team.

"We are so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to continue this program, and the donated space is crucial," says Schulze. "Support from SFU means we can continue to foster and grow artistic skills in young artists, to help them to take their first steps in the world of filmmaking in a world-class facility."

Summer Visions participants work in small groups to create a wide variety of short films: documentaries, fictional narratives, experimental films, or any combination thereof. A red-carpet event will be held in September for the participants and their families to watch the films.

"I was a teenager when I started working at this job, and I feel connected to many of the participants because I can identify with most of the issues they are dealing with," says program coordinator Kate Celli, who studied film at SFU. "It's awesome to have a program like this that can give them a safe space to tell stories based on their own experiences."

Elspeth Pratt, director of the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts, understands the challenges that arts groups face when it comes to finding workspace.

"We appreciate that we have state-of-the-art facilities and, when possible, we make them accessible to the community," she says. "When this opportunity to assist a vital arts organization presented itself, we wanted to help."

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