DIGICOM hosted its first Coachella Valley-wide High School Narrative Filmmaking Symposium, March 29th at the Palm Springs Cultural Center (Camelot Theaters). The Symposium served as the launch for a new DIGICOM collaboration between students from school districts across the Coachella Valley. With over 225 students in attendance from Palm Springs High School, Cathedral City High School, Desert Hot Springs High School, Mt. San Jacinto High School, Indio High School, Shadow Hills High School, Coachella Valley High School, West Shores High School, La Familia High School and Desert Mirage High School, the event was groundbreaking!
Over the course of the day, students and teachers were introduced to a diverse group of young professional filmmakers from Southern California in hopes of inspiring our Coachella Valley students to bring their stories to life through the power of video.
"I'm hoping the high school and cross-high school groups will be able to support each other's dreams of creating films," said David Vogel, Founder and CEO of DIGICOM.
Four short fiction films with diverse story lines were selected by six filmmakers in attendance from the Los Angeles based Film Independent's Project Involve Program. Project Involve is an intensive, nine-month annual program that offers 30 up-and-coming film professionals from under-represented communities the opportunity to hone skills, form creative partnerships, utilize free or low-cost production resources and ultimately gain the industry access necessary to succeed as working artists.
The four films shown were "To The Bone," which revolves around a pre-teen migrant farmworker; "Vamonos," which is about a Latina lesbian coping with the death of her girlfriend; "Counter," which is based on a true story from the Civil Rights era and a waitress' refusal to serve a black man; and "They Charge for the Sun," a story set in a dystopian future that centers around a young black girl and her sister.
After each film was shown, student-led question and answer periods with the filmmakers were held to share the "behind the scenes" experiences that result in writing and producing successful short films.
The Symposium was hosted by DIGICOM's adjunct screenwriting instructor, Ruth Atkinson, a LA based script consultant and story editor, alongside DIGICOM's Director of Programming Max Finneran. As Project Involve's story advisor, Ruth works with the writing fellows to develop their short scripts from concept through to production. As DIGICOM's Director of Programming, Max brings over ten years of experience in the professional film industry after receiving his MFA in Film Directing from New York University/TISCH's Graduate Film Program.
The DIGICOM Narrative Filmmaking Symposium is made possible through the generosity of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, and the generous support of The Anderson Children's Foundation and a $25,000 CBS Coachella Valley Spotlight Grant, to be presented this month by the H.N. & Frances C. Berger Foundation. This event is the first of several DIGICOM student workshops that will be serving students across the Coachella Valley!