Contact: Mari Irizarry, email@example.com, 718.768.9000
REEL WORKS TEEN DOCUMENTARY "AMERICAN DROPOUT" BROADCAST ON PBS
SEPTEMBER 22, 3:30PM
Featured Program of AMERICAN GRADUATE DAY broadcast.
American Dropout an original half hour documentary produced by Reel Works teens about the dropout crisis in New York City schools will air as a featured program on WNET Thirteen's American Graduate Day broadcast on Saturday, September 22nd at 3:30pm.
The documentary was commissioned by Thirteen and features a teen's eye view of the alarming epidemic of high school dropouts in our city.
Through this documentary, Reel Works teens explore the truth behind why students really drop out of high school. Through candid conversations with their peers who didn't finish school, as well as educational experts who illuminate the obstacles "at-risk" students face, the filmmakers move past labels and assumptions to get at the root issues of this crisis.
The film was created by Reel Works teens Jaden Baird, Yasha Gruben, Gizelle Diaz, Zhanna Bubnova and Orges Bakali. Three of the filmmakers participated in an in-studio discussion with Rafael P. Roman about the making of the film and what they learned about why teens drop out and what can be done to curb the crisis.
"It was amazing exploring and understanding the real reasons behind why kids drop
out…there are way more variables of which people aren't aware." – Jaden Baird, Reel
"Considering America has one of the highest High School drop out rates among
industrialized nations, it's essential for every age group to be aware of the epidemic."
– Zhanna Bubnova, Reel Works Filmmaker
"We discovered that the issue is not black and white like many believe. There are
individual reasons that must be addressed if we have any hope of successfully fighting
this crisis. – Orges Bakalli, Reel Works Filmmaker
The film was overseen by Reel Works Co Founder & Artistic Director Stephanie Walter Williams and created through Reel Works Productions – a youth-run production company that trains young people for careers in film and television by creating original media for paying clients.
"Reel Works' Teen Filmmaking's documentary AMERICAN DROPOUT features some of
the most important voices that will be heard on American Graduate Day—those of young high school dropouts themselves, speaking candidly to the filmmakers—in some cases their own friends and peers—about why they dropped out, the challenged they still face, and how they're working to overcome them." – Andrew Yamato, Outreach Producer,THIRTEEN
In 2001, the Prospect Park YMCA in Brooklyn invited filmmakers John C. Williams and
Stephanie Walter Williams to lead an intergenerational video project. Teens captured the lives of retired merchant seafarers who lived at the YMCA. The documentary was featured in The New York Times and broadcast on WNET/THIRTEEN's New York Voices. The Williams' were deeply moved by these teen filmmakers who dealt with a complex web of struggles at home, in school and with their peers. In response, they created a curriculum that challenged teens to produce documentary films about their lives and communities. A single workshop quickly evolved into Reel Works Teen Filmmaking.
Reel Works' mission is centered on the conviction that every young person has a story to tell with the belief that filmmaking holds within it essential disciplines of literacy, communication, creative and critical thinking, storytelling and teamwork. In the process, youth gain self-esteem, master state-of-the-art technology and are transformed from consumers to active creators of media. By training young filmmakers in this way, better students are created. Reel Works is the only youth media program that matches each participant one-on-one with a professional-filmmaker mentor.
Over eight million viewers have seen Reel Works films through web casts and broadcasts including on HBO, PBS and Oprah. In 2008, Reel Works received a Coming Up Taller Award given by the President Council on the Humanities. The award is the nation's top honor for after school arts and humanities programming. In 2011, Reel Works received two Emmy® nominations for "Reel Works with Byron Hurt," a weekly television program on channel 25/NYC Life which is seen by more than 143,000 households per episode and "Clicking with Caution," a DVD on Internet safety completed for the NYC Mayor's Office, Department of Education and Microsoft.
To learn more about Reel Works visit www.reelworks.org
American Graduate Day is a multi-platform event featuring a live television broadcast,
radio playlist with premiere documentaries, and participation from over 20 national partner organizations to spotlight solutions to the nation's dropout crisis. Viewers and listeners will be encouraged to become an "American Graduate Champion" by offering their time, donating resources, connecting with the organizations on social media or learning more about the crisis. Broadcast nationally from The Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York City, American Graduate Day premieres Saturday, September 22, 1-8 p.m. (ET) on public television.
Participating public television stations around the country will take the live feed and have an opportunity to add local content to support the national broadcast. American Graduate Day highlights community partners, educators and youth, who help keep at-risk students in school, across the nation. Each community partner profiled will provide viewers with information on how to become involved with American Graduate and the featured organizations.
Reel Works Offers Great Opportunities to NYC Teens
By Janil Santana, Fall 2009 Lab Graduate
Unlike other filmmaking programs in New York City, Reel Works is a free, Brooklyn based, after school program that pairs up high school students with professional filmmakers to help teens create their own short films on the topics of their choice.
According to their website, reelworks.org, Reel Works is "the only youth media program in the world that matches each of their students one-on-one with a professional filmmaker-mentor." Since its founding in 2001, Reel Works has earned five Student Emmys and the President's 2007 Coming Up Taller Award – the nation's top honor for after-school arts programs.
Every Spring and Fall, Reel Works chooses 12 teens to participate in their program called The Lab. Students in the program, known as "labbers," learn video composition, video editing, and writing skills to help them create their short films appropriately called shorts. Six months after The Lab starts, all labbers present their shorts to invited family and friends on movie screens. These screenings are not a competition, but rather, an event at which all labbers get to share their shorts proudly and enjoy those of their peers.
Eighteen year old Jackie Gonèze was a part of The Lab's Spring 2009 class. She worked alongside her mentor, Shari Carpenter, to create her first short film about the different things that people consider art to be. Gonèze insists that working with a professional made all the difference in the world.
"To have someone that was once in my position and could see my vision or help me bring it to light was amazing," she said. Gonèze also stated that her mentor, who has worked with big names such as Spike Lee, never made her feel incompetent. Despite the fact that three years have passed since their collaboration, Jackie revealed that she still loves her mentor.
Reel Works recognizes the importance of giving teenagers an opportunity to experience new things and a voice to express their visions. Before the program, a majority of the labbers never had mentors, did not know how to work a video camera, or how to use editing software. By the end of the program, labbers can professionally work a video camera and editing software.
Sixteen year old Midwood student, Eduardo Rivera, is currently a part of The Lab. He pitched his film idea to executives at Comedy Central in February. His film, a metaphor for an artist trying to find inspiration, required him to have his first casting call for actors, an experience that few teenagers get to have. For Eduardo, a Brooklyn native, this experience was surreal and exciting. It made him feel like a real filmmaker, not just a teenager with a camera.
Reel Works' student films range from stories of art to ones about family. Current high school student Emily Batista's film is about her family and their struggles dealing with a rare skin disorder. By creating this film, Emily hopes to speak out to people about her disorder and to get answers from experts about it.
"It's great to have someone who is willing to help me stay on track with my film and to motivate me to finish," she stated enthusiastically. According to Emily, having a professional filmmaker as a mentor has been very helpful. The filmmaking process, which tends to get difficult, requires motivation and support.
Both Emily and Eduardo are currently reaching the final stages of The Lab. Their films will be completed and screened in May. However, the journey doesn't end with the screenings. Most graduated labbers go on to universities such as Temple, NYU, Purchase, SVA, and Cooper Union, to study film and communications.
Reel Works' The Lab teaches students the power of storytelling, gives them confidence, and provides them with awing opportunities. High school students can visit reelworks.org for more information on how they can apply for The Lab.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ONE OF OUR OWN!
ISHMAEL ISLAM NAMED 2012 YOUTH POET LAUREATE
November 9, 2011-- The NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB), its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC), and Urban Word NYC held the 2012 New York City Youth Poet Laureate Program (YPL) Voter Slam Final on Saturday, November 5, 2011. Over 250 people attended the event held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union, which was hosted by Hot97's J. Medina. Out of the fourteen finalists who competed in the Final, Ishmael "Ish" Islam was named the 2012 Youth Poet Laureate for his winning poem, "Daydreaming at the Voting Booth."
Ish, a 19-year-old student at Kingsborough Community College, has participated in the program each of the past three years, and is a poet, MC, filmmaker, and graphic artist. He was one of the 2010 Brave New Voices Slam champions and placed third in the 2011 Knicks Poetry Slam. An award-winning producer of the short film, Departure from a Love, Ish is also half of the Brooklyn hip-hop duo HumUni (hyoom-yoo-ni) and has a one man show titled The Self Spell. As part of the 2011 Youth Poet Ambassador team, he represented the YPL program, the CFB, and the VAAC at several voter outreach events. When asked about his new role as the 2012 Youth Poet Laureate, Ish said, "I'm honored and excited to use my artistry to engage communities across the city to register to vote, vote in elections and become civically engaged."
From Ish's winning poem: "Everything we haven't abused is pure/ The vote is pure/ Remember my friend/ The voice always grants us another chance/ To awaken." For the rest of his poem, click here.
Urban Word NYC Executive Director Michael Cirelli said, "Ishmael Islam's most recent accomplishment caps off four years of incredible service to Urban Word and to New York City teens. He has been a role model and youth leader who is fully deserving to represent New York City as the Youth Poet Laureate."
Director of Voter Assistance and co-founder of the program Onida Coward-Mayers said, "The Youth Poet Laureate program has helped to energize and educate New Yorkers on the importance of voting. We applaud the young poets for keeping voter participation relevant among their peers."
As the 2012 Youth Poet Laureate, Ish will appear throughout the five boroughs to perform, speak about the importance of voter participation, and conduct voter drives. Ish will also have a book of his poetry published. The other thirteen finalists will serve as Youth Poet Ambassadors conducting outreach to potential youth voters throughout the city.
"The fourteen poets who competed tonight have really brought our thinking about voting and civic engagement to a new level, and reminded us that the power of spoken word to inspire action is not to be underestimated. New York City is lucky to have the Youth Poet Ambassadors traveling the city to talk about the importance of voting and civic engagement," VAAC Chair Art Chang remarked.
Winner Ishmael Islam surrounded by the 2012 Youth Poet Ambassadors.
The YPL Program is a voting-themed teen competition designed to energize youth voters through spoken word poetry. The program sponsors workshops for participants, ages 16-19, to hone their writing skills and learn about voting and community leadership. More than 60 students participated in the program this year, and 23 were selected to compete in the semi-finals last month.
The YPL Program is a partnership between Urban Word NYC and the CFB. Urban Word NYC presents literary arts education and youth development programs in the areas of creative writing, journalism, college prep, literature, and hip-hop. It provides writing workshops to teens year-round and hosts the Annual Teen Poetry Slam.
The Youth Poet Laureate Program is sponsored by AT&T, ConEdison, Hot97 and the Rockefeller Foundation.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GRADUATING CLASS OF 2011!
Last week, The NY Times reported that only 21% of NYC High School seniors were "deemed ready for higher education or well-paying careers". At Reel Works, 100% of our Seniors are not only graduating from High School, but 92% are college-bound! This fall, we're proud to send those students, armed with portfolios, reels and valuable industry connections off to schools like Cooper Union, School of Visual Arts, American University, Ithaca College & School of The Art Institute of Chicago - many to pursue a degree in Film.
Help show your pride in our Future Filmmakers by
MAKING A DONATION TODAY to support the next generation!
Orges Bakali - School of Visual Arts
Luca Balser - Cooper Union
Max Bayarsky -
Shaniece Bouldin - The Art Institute of NY
Zakiyyah Bowles - Ithaca College
Rose Charles - Deferred
Zoelle Dillard - Undecided
Tenia Hardy - College of Staten Island
Jeffrey Joseph - Kingsborough Community College
Ashley Longmire - Laguardia Community College, Queens
Shalaun Nelson - American InterContinental University - Atlanta
Patrick Noel - American University Washington, D.C.
Robbie Taliafero - College of Wooster, Ohio
Rafael Velez - Undecided
Charnika Webster - School of The Art Institute of Chicago
Joseph Williams - Kingsborough Community College, Brooklyn
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