Emerging Filmmakers

Application Deadline has been extended to June 16

Grade Level:  Entering 11-12, Cost: $895 (includes meals and housing)
July 13-18

Application:  Open

Application Deadline: Qualified applicants will be admitted on a "rolling" basis;  The application will be available until April 30, unless the program fills before then. Applicants will be notified of an acceptance decision within 2 weeks of receipt of their application.

Limited to 8 participants

Step into the world of filmmaking as you write, create, act in, and direct a short film.

Lights, camera, action!

Are you a film enthusiast?  In this program, students will participate in a hands-on environment learning about film production.  Everyone will take a turn at screenwriting, directing, operating a camera and sound equipment, using editing software and acting (if interested).  This program puts emphasis on the production process and work-flow above the technical proficiency of filmmaking.  Through evening screenings of great cinematic works, students will be challenged to "think outside the box" and navigate their imaginations beyond mainstream Hollywood productions, developing their own creative visions and sharing ideas with other students. 

The week will end with a film premiere for your family and friends!

Guidelines for Applying

An essay is required as part of our online application:  "Please write a few paragraphs explaining your interest in attending Emerging Filmmakers.  Then, if you can, write a very short (1-2 page) story idea for an original (short!) film."  A helpful guide to writing dramatic action can be found on this website by Jontahan Dorf, for young playwrights:  http://www.playwriting101.com/chapter04

Here are a few tips from our program director, Professor John Sanbonmatsu (click here for his faculty bio): 

- A great film, like a great short story or novel, illuminates something about what we call 'the human condition.'  Your story should be about recognizably human people in recognizable human situations.  Consider the sci-fi film, Gravity - as improbable as the events in the film are, the film works because we can identify with the existential plight of the protagonist, played by Sandra Bullock.  We all know what it's like to feel 'lost' and 'untethered.'  And we can empathize with the character's maternal loss even without having gone through such a loss ourselves. 

- "Write what you know."  Don't write about life in the Marine Corps, unless you've had a relative in the service who's told you about it.  Don't write about the White House or British Parliament, unless you happen to know a lot about the machinations of politics.  DO write about people you know, or who you can at least imagine vividly and with some degree of realism:  a teenager being bullied at school, a group of friends who steal a row-boat on a lark while skipping school, only to find themselves lost at sea (this could be a comedy or a tragedy, depending).

- Stories are about and are driven by conflict (internal or external, but almost always both).  Consider these film situations/scenes involving conflict:  in Bladerunner, a man sent to kill "replicant" cyborgs who have escaped human controls, begins to fall in love with one of them, putting him at odds with the establishment, as well as with his own identity; in Dersu Uzala, a group of men on an expedition must learn to rely upon a native man who has learned to live in harmony with Nature (which they, however, fear).

Have your characters talk and act like real human beings, as much like "grown-ups" as possible.  Avoid stereotypes or vague descriptions ("the super-achieving nerd," "the dumb jock," "a sassy girl," etc.).  Respect your characters, by portraying them as complex, dimensional beings.   

- Avoid hackneyed or obvious film plots or story lines:  the young, courageous football player diagnosed with cancer, who just wants to win that last Big Game; the awkward geek who proves his "manhood" by punching a bully and knocking him out (as in the sci-fi film, Back to the Future); the conniving teen actor or beauty contestant, who betrays her best friend to get to the top

-  Since we will be shooting with a very small cast and crew, try to come up with a film idea that requires only a few actors, and that takes place more or less in the same place and time.  (For example, the action might be set in a college dorm, and unfold over the course of a single night.  Or at a 7-11 convenience store, over the course of two days.)  

Good luck, and have fun with it!  

 
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For Participant info

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Have Questions?

Contact Summer Programs:
100 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609-2280 
Phone: +1-508-831-4900
Fax: +1-508-831-5694
summer@wpi.edu

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