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BMCC's VAT Offers Summer Video Camp to NYC High School Students

August 2, 2007

BMCC's Video Arts & Technology(VAT) Program was awarded an NSF grant from 2005–2008 titled, Creating Career Pathways for Women and Minorities in Digital Video Technology. The four-week summer Video Camp was funded by a grant and builds on high school students’ prior knowledge and amateur skills of capturing video images and sending them on their camera phones or posting them on websites. 

“The purpose of the Video Camp, according to Judy Noble, Professor in VAT and its NSF Coordinator “was to reach out to high school students and to move them beyond a casual, part-time hobby in video technology into learning the broad spectrum of disciplines needed in video production from harnessing their imagination into creative writing, critical thinking and organizational skills.”

Howard Ellis, a VAT professor, added that the camp was a “chance for high school students to learn the techniques of video and film production in a college environment.” He sees the camp “as a condensed workshop where students produce a video from conception to the final DVD by applying college level content and writing and learn that ‘quality’ means more than the effects of an MTV video.”

The fundamentals of production and post-production techniques, from basic editing to final mastering, were taught to 14 high school students from schools throughout New York City, at the BMCC Media Center Edit Lab, a state-of-the-art digital editing lab.

The Video Camp was run in cooperation with BMCC’s College Now Program, a successful program that brings high school students to the college, introduces them to the college environment, and in some courses, gets them started on a college degree. Deirdre G. Anderson, Coordinator of BMCC’s College Now said that the Program “ was pleased to assist the VAT faculty by identifying qualified 9th,10th, and 11th graders who could  benefit from this exciting video arts and technology summer experience.”

Anderson added that future student candidates “may qualify by writing a short essay to express their passion for film, video arts, as well as their desire to become excellent writers.” 

Pablo Bautista, the Writing Instructor for the Video Camp, worked closely with the students, guiding them in producing original scripts  they then shot and edited at the college’s Media Center.

Bautista taught both documentary and fiction script writing during his morning sessions with the students. He sees the camp as a means “to interest the teens in pursuing a college degree in the diverse field of video arts.” But he emphasized that his aim was to show students how script writing is “the road map” for video production. “More than anything,” Bautista added, “we wanted the students to come away with a respect for the art of good writing while they learned how to use the technology.”

Bautista said that during the four-week immersion all the students were engaged in shooting on location and writing a documentary about people who dive the waters of New York City, but each one took up that task from their own personal perspective. The students were also put to work on writing a 4-5 minute fictional scenario, in which other campers acted out the scripts and critiqued the separate “road maps.”

Enrichment activities were woven into the non-credit bearing program, including a private tour of the Steiner Studios, the Hollywood-style motion picture and television studios where “The Producers” and “Spiderman 3 “ were filmed. They also were treated to a meeting and Q and A session with the director of the film, “Face,” Bertha Pan.

At the end of the four weeks program a Video Festival was held to showcase the students’ work, with readings of their scripts and viewings of their videos.

Tara Pacheco, a sophomore at Frank Sinatra High School in Queens, called the summer camp, “an experience, like no other. I wouldn’t have been able to learn about the industry standard in script-writing while at the same time understand how to use video technique and equipment. I’m a drama major at Frank Sinatra but now I see other avenues in the film and video industry.”

Eric Singletary, another student from Frank Sinatra High School, said, “The experience opened my eyes about photography in video production. I’m an art major and I can now see how important the right angle and shot is to the success of video and filmmaking.”

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