Young Eco-Filmmakers are Hard at Work

By Cassandra West, New Media Access

In a large, multi-grade classroom, several small groups of students hover over textbooks, laptops and iPads. They’re hard at work on a film about environmental problems that might plague a megacity in the future.

Once the film is finished, these sixth through eighth graders at Keystone Montessori School in River Forest plan to enter it into the Young Filmmakers Contest: One Earth…Our EarthThe contest is a new addition to the 2013 One Earth Film Festival which will be held March 1-3, sponsored by Green Community Connections.

In addition to being budding filmmakers, the students are part of the Future Problem Solving Program, which stimulates critical and creative thinking skills and encourages students to develop a vision for the future.  The Keystone students are imagining a time 50 years from now. By then, some experts predict, Chicago and Milwaukee and their surrounding suburbs will make up a megacity. The United Nations defines a megacity as a metropolitan area with a total population of more than 10 million people. And, with megacities come many problems: urban sprawl, waste, water and air pollution.  “We are trying to come up with solutions to these problems,” says Maeve Dempsey, who’s writing the film’s script.

Young Filmmakers at Work

Seated at another table, Trevel Eggleston, one of the cameramen, whips through photos he’s taken on his smartphone. The tiny screen shows images of his neighborhood, the Chicago skyline and lakefront. Keystone MontessoriOther students are seated on the floor, involved in various aspects of film production. One girl is doing research on pollution while a boy a few feet away uses an iPad to capture video of another boy who’s practicing his narration.

Lara Pullen, a volunteer science teacher at Keystone, moves around the classroom checking on progress. She’s careful not to insert herself too much into the process. “I have enjoyed accompanying the students on their film journey,” she says. “The challenge for me has been to stay in the shadows and let them discover and tell their own story.”

With only a few more weeks to go, Shira Tan, co-director of the film, finds personal rewards from her involvement in the project. “It’s fun. It’s definitely hard to do, but it’s good because it teaches you how to think about the future, and it teaches you how to work hard with other people you aren’t used to working with.”

The Contest

Now in its second year, One Earth Film Festival is offering young filmmakers a chance to showcase their abilities in making positive changes for their future—and to tell their stories as only young people can.

“Youth involvement in the sustainability movement is the key to our future,” says Sue Crothers, contest committee co-chair.

The contest deadline is 5 p.m. CST Jan. 25. Winners will be announced by mid-February, and winning films will be screened at the One Earth Film Festival 2013 the weekend of March 1-3.