By Sarah Jackson/Remake Learning
Hollywood is rolling out the red carpet for the 85th annual Academy Awards this Sunday. But in Pittsburgh, we're celebrating our own local film talent - the city's young people - who through a variety of innovative programs in the region are becoming accomplished filmmakers in their own right.
Teens in the Pittsburgh region are using digital media to write, edit and produce their own films, building skills, experimenting with new technologies, and expressing important ideas about the most pressing social and cultural issues of their generation.
The Steeltown Entertainment Project, for example, is encouraging budding filmmakers through their Take a Shot at Changing the World video contest. Now in its third year, the contest awards prizes to local middle and high school students for films that "tell stories about people and movements that changed the world, and how they are inspired to act."
The contest was inspired by Steeltown's film, The Shot Felt 'Round the World, which tells the story of how Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh pulled together with the city to conquer what was once the most feared disease of the 20th century--polio. In 2011 schools were given copies of the film and asked to make their own short movies connecting what happened locally with the development of the vaccine to present-day eradication efforts.
Since then, over 400 students from over 60 schools have made videos about how Pittsburgh has changed the world and what they would do to change their own communities, winning over $20,000 in prizes for themselves and their schools. Lenique Huggins, a middle school student at Falk Laboratory School, won the Heinz History Center Pittsburgh Innovation Prize last year for her short film "Lawrence's Fight for Green." Huggins wrote (& performed) an original song about Pittsburgh's former mayor David Lawrence who fought for heavy restrictions on air pollution in the city in the 1940's. The film also suggests ways her peers can help continue Lawrence's fight for a cleaner community by taking public transit, for example, planting trees or buying green electricity.
Read More: Pittsburgh Teens Make Movies to Change the World