Hello my lovelies! I do hope you are well. I have had the most amazing week. This week, I have had the pleasure of attending Envision’s National Youth Leadership Forum for Film, Journalism, and Digital Media hosted at Manhattan College. In this program, selected High School students from across the country gather to hear from the industries leading film-makers and producers, participate in college-level projects, and study at the nation’s best film schools. This is an invite-only program, so I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to be in attendance.
Day 1 started out with registration and mixers to meet new people. Over 200 teenagers from across the country arrived at this program and it was so great to be able to share conversations with many. After we settled into our home for the week, we were introduced to our team advisors, and learned about what would be expected of us for the week. We were given two main assignments for the program. The first was to publish a fully functioning website, digital magazine, or digital newspaper (with a focus/central message of our choice), and present it to a panel of judges as if we were seeking funding. The second, was to produce a short film with the New York Film Academy that could eventually be displayed in our individual portfolios. Additionally, that night, we heard from two time Emmy winning producer, B.J. Levin. It was so great to hear Mr. Levin’s story. The night ended with everyone getting to know their roommates and settling into our new rooms.
Day 2 consisted of a lot of work. At the beginning of the day, my digital media team appointed everyones roles (such as Editor in Chief, Managing Editor, Lead Reporter, etc.). I was put on the Copy-Editing team, a role that allowed me to assist in the other departments as well as complete my own work. By the end of the day, we were way ahead of the other teams, having already completed our proposal and the entire planning process. We also competed in an AP Style challenge. In this, we learned about the rules of AP Style and put them into practice. My team ultimately came second, however our prize was two rolls of toilet paper… Yep. The day did not go on without interruptions though, we were scheduled to hear from two department heads from The New York Film Academy in the afternoon, but because of the crazy rain, they were not able to get to us uptown. Instead, after having a dance battle, we heard from our programs executive, Mr. Will Fox.
Day 3 began with lots of work on our digital media projects before we headed into the city. In the city, we firstly visited NYU and Washington Square Park. It was so much fun to explore the area with my friends while we were gaining content for our project. From there, we headed further downtown to the New York Film Academy. Here, we took several hands-on classes, and learned the skills necessary to “make it” in the film industry. We learned how to work a camera, and were given the opportunity to try shooting our own shots. Additionally, we took classes on directing and screenwriting. After class, we were given the opportunity to have dinner in Times Square. As a New Yorker, I tend to avoid the crazy atmosphere of Times Square as much as I can. However, going there with my new friends, some of which had never been before, was a lot of fun. They were all in such wonder of a place that I have grown to dislike, and it was so good to experience Times Square through the wonder of a tourist’s eyes again. My friends and I ultimately decided to eat at the Olive Garden in the center of it all. From being seated straight away, to growing closer to my friends, the night was filled with so many little blessings that came together to make it one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had in a very long time. Little did I know though, that our dinner shenanigans would only continue to get better. We returned back to Manhattan College that night and crashed as soon as we got back to our rooms.
The next morning, we were all so tired, and consequently had an extremely dull breakfast full of endless “I’m so tired” comments. Once we consumed our coffee however, things got very exciting, very quickly. We opted for the cheap, black coffee in the dining hall instead of our usual Starbucks drinks in order to buy us more time for Pokémon hunting. Yes, this was the morning we discovered Pokémon Go. Running around campus, searching for the best Pokémon, we soon realized just how quickly the app drains your battery. With much hesitation, we decided to head to our lecture and save our phones charge for pictures. That same morning, we heard from executive producer, Jon Murray, and were given the chance to hear about his exclusive experiences and opinions, as well as what really goes on in the production of many popular reality TV shows. It was such an honor to hear from him and so great to understand the process behind TV and film. After Mr. Murray’s lecture, we drove back into the city and had lunch at Union Square. Union Square had their weekend farmers markets up so after exploring them for a little, my friends and I sat down at a diner I used to find myself at often. After a quick lunch, we went straight back to the film academy to begin production on our projects after a quick sound class. We were given two hours to completely plan, analyze, and shoot our entire film project. This was an extremely challenging task, but taught me so much about working both in front of and behind the camera. After class, we went to Rockefeller center for dinner, where we again had many crazy experiences. We ate at a beautiful restaurant just outside of Rockefeller Center and afterwards consumed way too much Ben and Jerry’s. We went back onto the bus that night and talked and laughed about almost everything. I am so thankful for the rich friendships I created in just a manner of days.
Day 5 started out by a quick team meeting on our Digital Media projects before we again drove into the city. This time, we had brunch at South Street Sea Port, an area of the city in which I never spend a lot of time. It was great to explore and discover new places in this area. Again, we then went straight back to the New York Film Academy where we began the editing process of our projects. In just 2 hours, we learned how to edit, and then edited our own films. We presented our final projects to our peers. It was great to see the amazing work produced by the other groups and I was incredibly proud of my own group for accomplishing so much in such little time. After returning back to Manhattan College, we were given a few hours to eat dinner and meet with our Digital Media teams before we heard from Emmy Award winning Independent Film Maker, Lisa Russell. Ms. Russell is the founder of Governess Films, and is an advocate for global health. She uses films as the channel for her passion of spreading awareness for global concerns such as HIV/AIDS, climate change, and police brutality. Hearing Ms. Russell’s perspective was truly inspiring and taught me so much.
The next morning, my friends and I had a seriously long Starbucks struggle. With plans to beat the lines and grab a quick breakfast, we arrived at 7:50am, but didn’t receive our drinks until 8:45am. Yep. We waited in line for that long. Nonetheless, we arrived back just in time to hear from a panel from the New York Film Academy and a photo-journalist from TIME Magazine. It was such an honor to hear from even more influential people in the industry. From here, we went straight back to our Digital Media groups and worked on deadline to finish and prepare the presentation of our projects. Working on deadline was new for me but ultimately helped me to produce some of my best work. Later that night, we presented our project, and I was so proud of our group for all that we accomplished in such a short amount of time. We then had a cook-out in the quad for dinner, followed by a talent show. The talent show was probably one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. Some people sang to their respective significant others, some conducted full blown sing-alongs, some presented their graphic design on “Bronys”, some danced and flipped, and some even did a whole yoyo performance. It was amazing to watch my peers and friends show off their talents, and it was so much fun. The night ended with many long hugs as we realized we were just hours away from saying goodbye.
Day 7 was filled with many sad goodbyes. I was extremely sad to leave the NYLF, but I am so excited for all the future holds for everyone I met there. I am so thankful for the opportunity I was given to be in attendance, and I will cherish my short time there forever. To all my friends from the program, thank you for giving me such an unforgettable experience. I love you all.
My Digital Media Group!
“Cronkite group is present and accounted for. And that’s the way it is.”