School may be out but the TFI Youth department isn’t taking a vacation. Over the summer we are working on two major projects.
As the cultural partner for the filmmaking component of the Summer Arts Institute — a tuition-free intensive program for NYC public school students grades 8-12 put on by the New York City Department of Education’s Office of the Arts and Special Projects — TFI is teaming with SAI to assist 20 aspiring filmmakers in a four-week filmmaking studio. The high school age filmmakers will work in small groups on five original short films, which will include three documentaries and two narrative shorts. The topics the filmmakers will be working on include a teen perspective on being Mormon in New York, a visual and historical portrait of an abandoned school building in Harlem, bi-racial love in the city, and two narrative films on the impact of dreams and memory on everyday reality. Each filmmaker will also work on two personal projects, which include a short portrait and a soundscape of a place. Things kick off Monday at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts through mid August.
Currently underway, sixteen of TFI’s Film Fellows are involved in an advanced seven-week summer program that supports the creation of their individual projects. The program will be led by five instructors and held in the POV offices in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn.
One of the Fellows is Julianna Calderon (pictured above), a sixteen year old Brooklyn native from Sunset Park. Originally joining us in the spring semester of the program, Julianna arrived with only minimal experience in filmmaking through school, but quickly proved to be an imaginative thinker with a strong story to tell. In fact, her story telling skills led to her being one of the five scholarship winners, based on her project pitch.
“I was originally going to do a narrative based basically on my life on three women who struggle to be a family dealing with their own personal issues,” she says. “Growing up with a deaf mother has to be the biggest struggle I deal with. When I go out with her and she signs to me people just stare at her as if she's an alien and I'm not sure if it's because they're curious, or just new to seeing someone who is different.”
After spending time with her filmmaking peers, especially Film Fellow Roxanne Mauras, she thinks she’s found her project. “I really want to do a documentary film on a deaf person and the deaf community, so I had an idea to film my friend. He's twenty-one and deaf and grew up interacting in both the hearing and deaf community. So I thought maybe he has a story behind it all.”
Check in for more updates on our Fellows’ progress throughout the summer.