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Feature: Teen Producers Project

June 9, 2011 2:08 a.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando visits with the Media Art Center San Diego's Teen Producers.

Related Story: Screening: Teen Producers Project


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

KPBS-FM Radio: Teen Producers Screening
By Beth Accomando
June 9, 2011

This Saturday, the Media Arts Center San Diego will host a screening of documentary work from its Teen Producers Project. KPBS film critic Beth Accomando looks at what the Teen Producers Project is all about.

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(Tag:) There will be a free screening of the youth produced videos on Saturday from 4-6pm at the new Media Arts Center San Diego at 30th and El Cajon Blvd. And look for Beth's video feature on Friday's San Diego Week.

On the same block as a pawn shop and liquor store near 30th and El Cajon you'll find the new offices of the Media Arts Center San Diego.

ETHAN VAN THILLO: We knew we wanted a storefront space that we wanted to be right on the street. We want people to see inside and come in and use the technology that we are offering.

Executive director Ethan Van Thillo says one of the programs being offered is the Teen Producer's Project, which brings media resources to youths in underserved communities.

ETHAN VAN THILLO: When we started a lot of kids wanted to do music videos or skateboard videos and so we try to get the youth involved with the community and the program to think about issues that pertain to them and their community.

Recently, students from around the county were busy finishing videos for their upcoming media showcase.

ERIN: Right now I am color correcting some footage from an interview connected to Jacqueline Gain, the psychologist.

OSCAR: I'm working on an interview with the Teen Producers Project in Tijuana.

MATTHEW: Ah yes, I am working on the DVD cover.

TREVOR: I am checking in on my Vimeo account because I uploaded a proof-one of one of our interviewees onto VimeoI to get people's feedback on it.

Jodi Cilley oversees the students who range in age from 12 to 18. She teaches them about video editing programs like Final Cut Pro and guides them through the production process. But she insists the students do the bulk of the work.

JODI CILLEY: They come up with the questions, they conduct the interviews, they do all the production, they set up all the lights, and then once we're done they edit all the interviews down, they add in the b-roll and complete the process.

Thirteen-year-old Erin Timony talks about the project.

ERIN: Well basically, the main subject of the documentary we're making is about the Dream Act and illegal immigrants coming in and their children being unable to really be involved in society by getting their driver's license and going to college and getting a profession... and talking about the whole idea of how it affects kids.

Kids like Alejandra who's interviewed in the Teen Producers' documentary.

ALEJANDRA: I remember in 7th grade I applied for a scholarship and I wasn't able to get it because I didn't have a social security number.

By working on these videos, Timony says she's learning technical skills as well as developing critical awareness about the media.

ERIN: You can really take the different shots and cut them together in a way to kind of give a totally different emotion or feeling to certain shots you can really with the music and the transitions and the effects and where you put in certain things, it can really change the mood of it a lot... it's interesting how you can cut together sentences to portray a certain message or feeling.

ALEJANDRA: What did I do wrong, like, why don't I deserve to go where I want to go.

Josue White, a 17-year-old from Mission Valley, says media outlets sometimes only present one side of an issue.

JOSUE: They don't look at the human side of immigration they just look at it in a very political, patriotic kind of a way but they don't ever like interview actual immigrants or people that are actually going through these problems. They just look at it from their perspectives.

That's the goal of the program, says Ethan Van Thillo -- to get students to think about what they see, to ask questions about the accuracy of those images, and then come up with images of their own.

ETHAN VAN THILLO: When we started the Teen Producers Project we definitely had a goal of trying not to just replicate what we see in mass media.

To do that the Teen Producers Project is providing the equipment and training students need to create a fresh perspective on issues that are important in their communities. San Diego teen Melissa Shega is excited about sharing the Dream Act documentaries with a larger audience this Saturday.

MELISSA: I think it's really good. I think it will definitely put in a different perspective what people think and hopefully inform some people about the Dream Act. I feel really connected to the Dream Act now so hopefully it will pass.

ALEJANDRA: I've been waiting on it.. I've been sort of telling myself that it is going to happen.

For KPBS, I'm Beth Accomando..