It was sort of like a boot camp for student filmmakers. High school students were given professional gear and intense instruction over spring break, and tasked with making short films.
"We took the kids from the beginning concept of writing a script to actually producing it, filming it, and showing a final product,” said Paul Antoine of Florida Film House, a Miami-based production company.
Florida Film House came up with a program called First Take, designed to teach kids from inner city schools the basics of film making. They’re hoping to inspire the next generation of actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, and every other profession involved with the movie business.
"This taught me that I do want to be in the film industry,” said Monica Bissainche, who just graduated from Edison High School.
All of the kids involved in the project are from Overtown and Liberty City. Their films reflect their neighborhoods and their own lives. Dividing into teams, they made three short films, with themes including absentee fatherhood, crime and punishment, and disrespecting women. They say it’s all about honesty.
"We’re gonna make sure this is with emotion, we’re doing it for a reason, we’re doing it with purpose," said Tiffany Ortiz, from Booker T. Washington High School.
The films they’ve made are going to be screened Sunday afternoon at the American Black Film Festival in Miami. The kids aren’t competing for prizes, but they are competing for recognition of their talents.
"I feel amazing, I feel like I could probably go anywhere, audition, and I’d nail it," said Wilson Remy, who acted in one of the films. "First Take, Florida Film House, they really gave me the chance to prove myself."
Florida Film House had help from the community organization, Urgent, Inc., which empowers teenagers to stay away from gangs and violence. Turns out, making movies is a team exercise in which everyone learns important life skills such as problem solving and cooperation.
"There's gonna be conflict, I learned, and you have to be patient," said Marcus Williams, one of the student filmmakers.
So how did the films turn out? The pros say they’re amazed and proud of their students.
"These kids, when they actually put their minds to doing something, and they have someone in the community actually pushing them, it’s nothing that they can’t achieve," Antoine said.
Florida Film House is hoping to expand the program next school year. So First Take may lead to many more takes in the future.