A Summer Arts Institute Alum Returns as Staff

The 2011 Summer Arts Institute kicks off today at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, Queens. The Tribeca Film Institute is a partner in the six-week filmmaking component of the program, in which young filmmakers from New York City public schools are taught about both the creative and technical aspects of filmmaking. This year, Wyatt Maker, an alum of the Summer Arts Institute as well as other Tribeca Youth programs, is working with us on the program before he returns to college to finish his undergraduate film degree at SUNY Buffalo. Below, Wyatt shares his experiences with the TFI Youth programs in which he participated, and his thoughts on returning as a staffer.

My name is Wyatt Maker and I'm from Brooklyn. I participated in the 2007 Tribeca Film Fellows, the 2007 Summer Arts Institute, and in the 2008 Our City My Story with a submission of my own film called Holding Up. I'm entering my senior year at the State University of New York at Buffalo, and am majoring in Film Production and Theatre.

I was always interested in film. As a toddler my favorite thing to do was to watch films, constantly, over and over. My parents' VHS copies of movies like Forrest Gump, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jurassic Park, Titanic and the Disney classics were all ruined by frequent VCR playback. My other favorite thing to do was to go to the video store with my dad every week and rent classics. (Then maybe a little SEGA.)

TFI and their youth programs helped solidify my confidence in pursuing a career in filmmaking. I always knew I wanted to do it and being a part of their youth programs offered encouragement and opportunities to create artistic products that served me well in the pursuit of a college education. The TFI youth programs helped give me proof of and a perspective on my abilities.

I expect to see a reflection of my old self in the kids who come into the program this summer; to see them where I used to be. I expect to see the kids go through that era of artistic discovery that I went through and continue to go through to this day. It'll be a refreshing experience and mutually beneficial for the kids and myself as I hope to help them steer their creative energy toward creating a product they are proud of and gain perspective on filmmaking.

I want to continue to write and direct films. First and foremost, I want to bring a measure of truthfulness to stories that we can all relate to; to stories that have the potential to make us evaluate the way we live and encourage us to change them for the better. I am excited for what lies down the line and the blessings that God has in store for me.

You can find Wyatt's work on YouTube and Vimeo.