I created the HW Summer Film Program in 2006 so I could teach my 12-year-old twin daughters how to make films. The program became wildly successful and each year expanded to provide new opportunities for the participants. We’ve generated a large body of films that include comedies, dramas and animations. I’ve seen students blossom as they’ve learned skills – acting, directing, cinematography, editing, and production design. They’ve had fun working in small production teams and have loved my young, talented teachers. Students have been exposed to amazing guest speakers like director Jason Reitman (Juno), editor Dana Glauberman (Up in the Air), and screenwriter Matt Ember (Get Smart).

Our films have rocked the film festival world as official selections at NFFTY (National Film Festival for Talented Youth), Westport Youth Film Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival, International Student Media Festival, Reel Youth Film Festival, CineYouth, Citizen Jane Festival, Young Cuts (Canada), Sidewalk Moving Pictures, deadCenter, Mill Valley Film Festival, among others. We’ve won numerous awards including at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival (best child-produced), Westport Youth Film Festival (best social action, audience choice), Newport Beach Film Festival, Cine, Los Angeles Student Media Festival, and more!

Our program has something for everyone. Writing the Short Film teaches screenwriting, a skill so fundamental to the success of one’s film. I encourage older students to hone their skills in this week-long class in which students feel empowered as storytellers. Summer Film Camp: The Basics is for kids of all ages (7th -11th graders) to learn the fundamentals of storytelling through cinematography and editing. Making a Short Film is a two-week intensive that results in a high-quality collaboratively-produced film. We select the four most producible (and film festival competitive) screenplays drawn from our screenwriting week; students sign up for the film script and crew position that is most interesting to them.

Our newest program, The Righteous Conversations Project, uses media for social justice by bringing together teens and Holocaust survivors. We have such little time to learn directly from these elders. History comes alive for the teens as survivors share their stories in an intimate setting, then teens identify issues of injustice in our world and learn about the power of media to impact society. In a very short time, teens transform their issues into powerful public service announcements (PSAs). Our previous PSAs have been selected for numerous film festivals, often winning the top prize for best PSA. You can learn more about The Righteous Conversations Project and check out our PSAs at www.righteousconversations.org.

If you have any questions about what weeks are right for your child just give me a call. Discounts apply for multiple classes. My twin daughters are now in college and work as teaching assistants in the Summer Film Program. Together we look forward to welcoming a whole new crop of budding filmmakers to join us. Perhaps your child will be among them!

-Cheri Gaulke
Director, HW Summer Film Program