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_DSC8888The Youth Documentary Academy provides intensive media and documentary film training to high school students in under-served communities of Colorado Springs. For seven weeks, students between the ages of 14 and 18 learn all aspects of documentary filmmaking from pre-production, shooting, editing and distribution. Students also learn how to mentor younger students.

In addition to developing technical proficiency in digital media through lectures, exercises and workshops, students also direct and produce their own documentaries, learning how to locate themes from their lived experiences and transpose those personal and family narratives into documentary films.  Students learn how to distribute their films to local schools, libraries, and film festivals.  They also help organize community screenings and engage with the public through traditional and social media.

Filmmaking and vocational skills

  • Digital video camera and sound recording skills, including set-up and lighting
  • Interviewing skills
  • Observational framing and shooting techniques
  • Story-boarding and writing techniques
  • Non-linear digital editing skills
  • On-line branding skills (web, social media, streaming) and public engagement

Career and post secondary education skills

  • Communication and relationship-building skills (with peers and adults)
  • Exposure to professional filmmakers and university staff and faculty
  • Exposure to public via film screenings, online branding, and social media
  • Peer collaboration skills, working in production teams
  • Exposure to vocational careers and increased understanding of college admissions
  • Mandatory mentoring in the second year.  Peer to peer teaching.
  • Portfolio development including resumes and bios with finished videos

YDA students were very savvy about locating themes from their own lived experiences, creating easy access to stories that matter to them. Watching these young people really grab onto a craft to find their voices at this age, that’s really powerful.

Tom Shepard, YDA Founder

Students grew significantly throughout the summer: some came out of their shells, some learned to communicate better, others connected more deeply to their feelings. All of them brought their stories on screen intimately, while grabbing hold of new competencies in filmmaking.

Aaron Burns, Instructor