Volunteering with Young Storytellers

By Sophie Robertson

MOFILM LA volunteered as Big Pitch panelists for the Young Storytellers initiation at Whaley Middle School in Compton last week. The opportunity to get involved came from longtime MOFILM filmmaker Joshua Traywick who volunteered as a mentor.

Young Storytellers is a semester-long, after-school screenwriting and film production program culminating in a pitch and screening of student-made films. This semester, six Whaley Middle School students participated in writing their own original short script and directed professional actors to perform it in a short film. Each student is paired with their own mentor from the entertainment industry who offers support and guidance as they develop their confidence and imagine their own stories. The program provides underserved young people in the public school program an opportunity to develop creative learnings behaviours through the art of storytelling. Students leave the program with the knowledge that their stories matter and that their unique voices can be the ones telling them.

Our own LA based producers, Ashley Lane, Gabriela Merrihue and Anisha Madzounian, joined as panelists while students pitched their projects and showed the trailer for their films. Through the encouragement of industry producers, they answered questions such as “What inspired you to make this film?” “What lesson do you hope your audience takes away from this?” and “How did you approach directing an actor playing a dinosaur?”

Suffice to say, no one was more fit to direct a dinosaur than nine-year old Lani.

On Monday, June 4th, Whaley Middle School and Dominguez High School students screened their short films to friends and family at William Morris Endeavor, a sponsor of the program. Themes ranged from friendship to the art of an apology, from drug use to gun control and shared their experience throughout the process, proving that every compelling tale has a compelling origin.

To find out more about the program, visit https://www.youngstorytellers.com

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