by Chamidae Ford
Last week, the Rainier Arts Center premiered its first BIPOC Youth Film Camp. Reel Youth Film Camp is a week-long program that allows black and brown children, ages 7 to 11, to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking and explore their creative side.
The idea for a BIPOC film camp came from program instructors Tiffany Bennett and Obadiah Freeman, who were disappointed by the lack of diversity in other youth film camps.
âWe originally started doing camps with the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) and those camps were amazing,â Freeman said. âWe both love teaching students of all ages and types, but we recognize that SIFF was actually only providing services to a certain demographic because of the network they were helping. So we discovered that there were opportunities to create this opportunity for others as wellâ¦ I’ve always been inspired by cinema and being black. And that’s kind of what brings together everything I do and, I think, what we to do.”
The camp is steeped in flexibility, letting students’ preparation and progression guide how quickly they move through concepts.
âWe give you the basic structure, an introductory film course,â Bennett said. “And then depending on the distance, I say at least two days at the camp, can we move forward?” [Should we] stay where we are and then get more structure and understanding? And we use their first film so that we can tell us about it, then their second film, and with each film, they grow up.
The camp featured nine filmmakers. During the week, they each made three films ranging from two to three minutes long. Students were given prompts when needed, but Bennett and Freeman tend to let students’ ideas guide their lesson plan.
âThey come in, they create what they want to create, and then we kind of guide them through that process,â Freeman said. âOur program sometimes rhymes with the Montessori type of a structure where the student somehow directs what we teach. So they say they want to make a horror movie. And that’s what we’re going to do.
The program provides children with applicable knowledge, prioritizing traditional film making and introducing different stylistic approaches.
âI think our program introduced art and film in a way that kids wouldn’t think of,â Bennett said. âTikTok is one thing, but we are not TikTok. We teach you real skills that you can learn in film school in a way, because then you call out the signals of the movie and you understand the process of a movie. And so I think our program will introduce BIPOC kids to art forms that they thought didn’t exist for them.
At the end of the week, participants invited their family and friends to an evening to watch their films. With over 50 people coming to see the students’ work, the love and support for the children was palpable.
“We show the films in the order in which the students created them in order to [the audience] can get an idea of ââthe growth that [the students] eu, âFreeman said. âParents and students sort of see where they started and where they ended up in the end. “
The prime minister was supported by Kibibi Monie and focused on community and coming together to support black youth.
âIf you think of black and brown families and BIPOC families in general, food is kind of like this central element that brings us together, isn’t it? And this is something that seemed very important to us, like a hot meal or just a meal in general, says a lot about our own, our children and our cultures, âsaid Ben Leiataua, program manager at the Rainier Arts Center. .
The Reel Youth Film Camp will be hosting its winter camp from December 27 to 31. You can register for the camp online at the Reel Youth Film Camp Winter Camp Enrollment webpage. Reel Youth Film Camp is a paid program.
Reel Youth Film Camp would like to especially thank its sponsors, Nu Black Arts West Theater (Kibibi Monie), Island Soul, The Copy Spot and Hardout Media.
Ford of Chamidae is a recent graduate in journalism from the University of Washington. Born and raised in West Washington, she is passionate about giving voice to the communities around her. She has written for The Daily, GRAY Magazine and Capitol Hill Seattle. Reach her on IG/ Twitter: @chamidaeford.
?? Featured Image: Students Terry Hill, 11 (left) and Ezekiel Rapier, 11 (right) position the camera while filming a movie they helped write during Reel Youth Film Camp of five days from August 16 to 20 at the Rainier Arts Center. (photo: Susan Fried)
Before you move on to the next story â¦ Please consider that the article you just read was made possible by the generous financial support of donors and sponsors. The Emerald is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet with the mission of offering a wider lens of our regionâs most diverse, least affluent, and woefully under-reported communities. Please consider making a one-time gift or, better yet, joining our Rainmaker Family by becoming a monthly donor. Your support will help provide fair pay for our journalists and enable them to continue writing the important stories that offer relevant news, information, and analysis. Support the Emerald!