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Opening up Opportunities Through Student Film Making 

Creating short films on topics such as climate change, gender equality, and waste is an effective way for students to combine powerful place-based learning with moving art. It provides young people the opportunity to become change-makers in their communities. Throughout the process of making their videos, they can start up conversations with their families, peers, and neighbors about important topics that matter to them. As an added bonus, learning about their global topic and digital creation can open up future education and career opportunities.

Young People Making a Difference Through Film

Learning storytelling through film at a young age by participating in contests like our World of 8 Billion Student Video Contest can open up many opportunities for you in the future.

For instance,  some lucky high school students had the chance to create their own short environmental documentaries with funding from IMAX. In 2016 IMAX provided four high schools across the country with $5,000 grants to produce short documentaries related to the topics of climate action, life below water, and life on land, three of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Film subjects varied from honey bees to the Everglades and were entirely student-led. The documentaries created with the grant money were then released by IMAX on their own website and the UN Environment’s website on World Environment Day. Some of them were even selected to be used further in different UN initiatives. 

After high school, there are even more opportunities for aspiring young filmmakers. For example, three college students recently won a $12,000 prize in the EPA’s Environmental Justice Video Challenge for Students for their documentary exploring the possible health risks for Californians living near oil and gas wells. This contest is for undergraduate and graduate students and calls for videos demonstrating innovative approaches to addressing environmental justice issues and enhancing communities’ capacities to handle them. 

At Villanova University, another opportunity popped up when student filmmakers came together to create their own student-run production companies under the school’s Social Justice Documentary program and course. One of the production companies, Last Letter Films, had the opportunity to travel to Loíza, Puerto Rico to surround themselves with the rich Afro-Puerto Rican culture while filming their documentary Rooted. The film centers around the healing powers of Bomba music, a traditional form of drumming that was created by West African enslaved people and brought over to Puerto Rico in the 1700s.

Filmmaking Develops Marketable Skills and Amplifies Student Voices

Having students create short videos and films on real-life issues that matter to them is a great exercise for developing skills that open up future opportunities. Film allows students to explore issues in ways that challenge their creativity and push them to be the change they want to see in the world. Students have a lot to say and by making their own videos they get the chance to amplify their own voices and be heard.