While it seems most high-school dramas captured on camera these days are of teens plagued with puppy-love problems, dreaded essay assignments, and acne, some local teen stars are jumping behind the lens during those awkward, angst-filled years to create award-winning films.
This weekend the Josiah Youth Media Festival honors those young filmmakers by screening their films at the Urban-15 Studio and awarding a grand prize of $500 credit with B&H Photo & Video. The festival, which will screen 36 films, was named after Josiah Miles Neundorf, a media artist from San Antonio who passed away from Osteosarcoma in 2006 at the age of 20. In honor of Neundorf, it aims to support budding talent by accepting only youths born after June 1, 1987.
“I think even `for` a younger age I’d like to see some really strong `educational` programs in film,” said Erik Bosse, a producer of the festival and the 48-Hour Film Project in August, addressing the importance of support systems for young artists. “Most of these tools the kids have at home on their computers and some of them are doing this sort of work at a young age, but they’re not being educated on how not to make some of these mistakes.”
In addition to providing the opportunity for the youth to strut their stuff, the festival’s objective is to teach young filmmakers to view their work as professional pieces of art. As a supplement, Bosse invites all students to attend a free workshop on Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Urban-15. One of the guest lectures is on how to use special-effects makeup — the class will transform one lucky student into a zombie. Another class will address how to cast professional actors, a skill that will enhance the quality of filmmakers’ work. The workshop, which includes a free lunch, is meant to stress education and networking.
“One of the objectives is, in a more relaxed environment, for the local filmmakers to meet one another,” Bosse said. “When you’re making film, other filmmakers are your resources. It’s an important part because it’s a collective art form.”
Jessica Torres, 16, is planning on attending the workshop and has entered her film, Molasses, in the festival. Torres is a student at the Fine Arts Magnet Academy at Jefferson whose work has been featured at SXSW (watch her video “Pantalón” at saysimedia.org). She said she created her Josiah submission, a mockumentary, for the love of filmmaking and production. According to Torres, Josiah is important because it gives kids a chance to be seen and heard.
“If you apply for a bigger film festival like the San Antonio Film Festival, you might not have a chance because it’s the older groups and they have more experience,” Torres said. “They have more access to equipment and they have more time. People trust adults more than they do teenagers. This would be just for us to show each other our films.”
Torres expressed that having your films seen is important because it gives the filmmaker the feedback necessary to keep creating. Minor mistakes may go unseen hundreds of times by the director, but can be caught by a viewer in the first
The only thing Torres finds lacking in the festival is greater City support.
“San Antonio should be more supportive in general of their film community,” Torres said. “`The City` needs to help its film community because we’re still struggling as filmmakers. Some people support but there is not enough support from the whole city.”
The festival is just another example of San Antonio’s rapidly-growing film community, along with the development of programs like SAY Sí. Josiah is expected to continue into a third year in 2009 — for teens looking to jump behind the camera, next summer is only 12 months away. •
The Josiah Youth Media Festival
8pm, Jul 10-12
$7.50 per screening, $5 students, military, and seniors
2500 S Presa