Why I Created Film School for Teens

I’m not one of those people who could ever confidently say “This is my calling!” I have always enjoyed my work and always striven for excellence. But to say it was my “calling” would be an exaggeration.

Poster for "The Substitute"

Then a few years ago I got the opportunity to work with high school students creating short films. I've always done narrative filmmaking as a personal hobby but not to the scale that I started doing it in this new context. To date we have created 3 films and we are currently working on the 4th. What I discovered was a generation of young people who love filmmaking just like I always did. But while you would think that the ubiquitous availability of technology to make films would be a huge advantage, it also serves to stunt their growth. It’s too easy. It takes no effort at all to pull out a camera and start filming. No one has to work for it.

Old school video gear

When I was a teenager I begged my dad to bring home his office VHS camera so my friends and I could make a movie in a weekend. Editing required us to string VCRs together with a jumble of cables and painstakingly hit PLAY, RECORD and PAUSE repeatedly to stitch a scene together. The sheer effort required to pull this off was a feat by itself. But today, a 5 year old can make a video that will blow your mind almost by accident. However, despite the ease it all, most people don’t advance very far in their skills and expertise because the highest form of “art” they aim for is a video of their latest Dutch Bros order or a funny moment with their cat. And that’s not filmmaking.

But through my work with teens, I have seen eyes opened and passions ignited! We run a yearly high school film festival and the improvement year after