On Friday, September 18, Ghetto Film School Los Angeles and the nonprofit Film Independent will present the second annual GFS LA Screening Showcase, where GFS students’ 11-minute short films will screen at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the largest art museum in the western United States. GFS, which offers hands-on training and film education to young people from low-income communities, is now in its second year in Los Angeles. 21st Century Fox is the funding sponsor of GFS LA.
The event is the culmination of months of work for the 31 students, who are currently enrolled in the GFS LA Fellows Program. The students write and produce the films entirely on their own, and the screening offers the chance to celebrate their achievements.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase their work to their friends and family and sort of say, ‘Hey, this is what I did with my summer,'” said Alvy Johnson, Program Coordinator at GFS LA.
Following the screening, the Fellows will participate in an on-stage conversation with Film Independent Curator Elvis Mitchell. The films chosen for the screening have also been viewed a panel of industry professionals that includes director/cinematographer Jan De Bont (Die Hard, Speed) and director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Miss You Already). The jury will award scholarships to three of the filmmakers.
The program offers students a 30-month college-level pre-professional immersion in digital storytelling and production training.
21st Century Fox, co-founder of GFS LA, has taken an active role in the students’ development. Executives have served as guest speakers and mentors, and one of the students’ first ever projects was to create television promos for the FX channels.
“That’s one of the things that we hope will set us apart from other film programs is that direct connection with working professionals so we can create opportunities for these students to work in the industry,” Johnson said.
GFS continues to expand in other ways, as well. This summer, GFS LA partnered with Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, Los Angeles, to create a College Residency program for GFS students. The free program is scheduled to continue for the next two summers.
Simone Walker, a 15-year-old high school student from LA who participated in the program, told the LA Times, “I see myself going into the film industry as a producer or an assistant director, but education comes first… Being 15, college is something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about but not having a good idea of what I had to do or how it worked. The program really helped me to understand what college is and what I’ve got to do to succeed in it.”
For more information on the Ghetto Film School, visit GhettoFilm.org.