Four high school students sit together hunched over laptops and talk about applying for jobs, envious childhood friends, and casting spells. They’re not gossiping or trying to complete homework, they’re discussing the screenplay they will soon write for a short film they will produce and direct.
“It’s so dramatic,” says Daniela Peñaloza, of the short film she and her group plan to create.
Peñaloza, a senior at Lynwood High School, and more than 20 other LA-area high school students are participating in Film2Future, a nonprofit creative program that highlights LA’s dynamic youth and provides them with career and learning opportunities in the entertainment industry. For two weeks at Emerson College Los Angeles (ELA), the students will get hands-on training on professional equipment from experts in the digital, music, television and film industries as well as receive career advice from a series of guest speakers.
“We’re trying to give them an overview of real life in the business,” said Rachel Miller, a partner at Haven Entertainment, who created the program.
Each participant in the program receives free transportation to ELA, healthy food from local restaurants like Tender Greens, Border Grill, and Starry Kitchen, Final Draft screenwriting software, and goodie bags filled with headphones, books, movies, Stussy bags, Billabong sunglasses, Nixon watches, and many other donated items. Students accepted into the program had to submit an essay and video as part of the competitive application process. Miller says she created the program because she wanted to find a pathway to increase diversity in Hollywood and let students know that a career in the entertainment industry was possible.
“I spend a lot of my day seeing a lack of diversity in the entertainment industry,” said Miller. “If you really want voices that are diverse, you have to start early, when students are in high school, and let them know there is a path even if they don’t have movie-star parents.”
Read the rest of ELA Hosts High School Youth Film Program via the Emerson website.