Creating the Next Generation of Steven Spielbergs

By Stephanie Wang – 11th Grade, Peters Township High School

What if you had the opportunity to make a movie? What would you make it about? How would you write it? How would you shoot the film?

These are all questions participants of the Digital Filmmaking Camp, organized by the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media, have to answer during this week-long camp at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.


Ian, a 15-year-old, working on a script for his screenplay

Paul, the instructor for the camp, told me about the three projects the students will complete by the end of the five-day period, with each one getting more difficult and lengthier than the last. The first project was to create a short movie with the iPad app iMovie. In groups, they had to create a movie that would capture the six words they were given. Some of the words used were video-game, truck, and broken. The participants’ next challenge was to create a documentary about any topic they chose, such as cartoons, food, and music. The last project blew the rest out of the water. They each wrote their own script under five pages, based on another participant’s lie from the game Two Truths and a Lie. But that’s not it – after that, they gathered in small groups, chose one script, then filmed and edited it into a final movie. Not exactly an easy feat, even for high-school students.

That’s what Paul likes about this program – it gives people the opportunity to learn new skills and create something of their own. “People choose to be here. It’s nice to do something you want, and not what you have to do, as it’s often like in school. Here, you can explore a passion you want to and learn something for yourself,” Paul explained.

Owen, a 15-year-old, exemplified this idea: “I’m here because I want to learn more about cinematography and making films.” This passion for filmmaking is voiced by several other participants of the camp, too.

The amount of knowledge students learn in the short period of five days is  shown in the fact that five digital badges, through the City of Learning, are offered to participants who complete the camp. Some of these badges include the Rule of Thirds Badge and the Editing Basics Badge.

All of the participants were enthusiastic about earning digital badges for completing the camp. In particular, Ian, a 15-year-old student, said, “I feel like the badges would look really good on a college resume.”

Paul also elaborated on some of the goals he has for the camp: to develop a safe community for the participants, to help students learn basic filmmaking skills and film terminology, and to guide students in how to create their own video.

Observing the students hard at work in such a collaborative environment, I am confident that Paul has been able to achieve just that.

Stephanie Wang 2Stephanie Wang, a rising junior at Peters Township High School, is an avid writer and food enthusiast. Her past writing has been featured on The Almanac’s Youth Page, and she is currently the editor of Business Funnel.




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