Collaborations come in many shapes and sizes, and often the resulting whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. That’s definitely true about The Granada’s Teen Digital Media Project, a wonderful project in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Education Office that is paying large dividends for the young people who take part.
When staff members at the education office heard about the Teen Digital Media Project that Arts Ed at The Granada was putting together for students at El Puente Community School about a year ago, they wondered if there was a way to collaborate even further.
El Puente students face many academic and social challenges, and this project seemed like an ideal way to engage them in a creative outlet steeped in an academic context.
Our Instructional Media Services staff members brought the idea to our staff members who work with the California Technology Assistance Project, and all agreed that the project would be valuable and worth pursuing.
For a year now, 10-week sessions have been held at SBCEO’s Computer Technology Center for El Puente students doing filmmaking and digital editing. More than 40 students have taken part.
The net benefit for students has been improved school attendance, acquiring of skills for the digital media job market, and encouragement to follow their interests by going to college or other related avenues of continuing education. The students are clearly enthusiastic about the project, and the quality of their work speaks for itself.
“The students have earned community service hours and fine art credits towards graduation, while being introduced to community resources and potential internship and career options,” said Laura Inks, director of education at The Granada. “Students also learn the value of completing a project while making films about things that interest them.”
Two days a week, Inks, filmmaker Ethan Turpin, volunteers and the students “descended upon” the Technology Training Center at the our office, hooked up their cameras to the laptops and edited their films.
The laptop computers and the software used to edit the student videos were furnished through the California Technology Assistance Project. Our staff members coordinated with Inks on an ongoing basis to schedule time in the Technology Training Center around all the other workshops and meetings that take place there. The recently acquired, CTAP-funded MacBook laptops were set up with the latest version of iMovie, which is the software the student use to edit their videos.
Inks administered the program and took care of logistical needs, while mentoring the students through the process.
This past year, students filmed at a wide variety of locations, including the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Friendship Center, Don Q’s Family Billiards, Rey Funeral Services, the Santa Barbara police and fire departments, the Neverland Ranch, Elings Park, the Ty Warner Sea Center and the Spirit of Uganda performance at The Granada.
In addition, under the guidance of Inks, students took field trips to the Brooks Institute School of Film, SBCC’s School of Media Arts, Santa Barbara Channels TV studio, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and KEYT television studios.
Most satisfying of all, the students have been treated like filmmakers at every turn. They were introduced to industry professionals and learned how to behave and interact in the professional world of filmmaking, which they did with flying colors. Daily transportation is provided by Easy Lift Transportation Services.
Inks praised “the amazing computer lab where we work in a very professional environment. Special thanks to Shelley Crawford, the technologies resources specialist, for all her help, to Kristen Walker and Steve Keithley of Instructional Media Services who first recognized this was a project worth pursuing, and to Steve Hillery, of CTAP, for giving it the green light.”
It’s been a wonderful partnership, and a great use of our Technology Training Center and equipment. The students have been well behaved, careful with the equipment and highly engaged in their projects. At the recent graduation of 18 El Puente students, four had taken part in these classes and one hopes to become a professional filmmaker.
The results of this collaboration can be viewed on YouTube under “TeenMediaProject.” A quick glance there will demonstrate the power of this valuable collaboration, and the way it can change young lives by providing a creative outlet, concrete job skills and increased motivation to pursue education. It is truly a win for all involved.
— Bill Cirone is Santa Barbara County’s superintendent of schools.