From their press release:
: Fifty teens from Reading, Pa., will see their hard work come to life on the big screen. The Breinigsville-based nonprofit Haydenfilms Institute will premiere the 20 public service announcements created by participants in its 2012 Youth Media Initiative from 4:30 p.m. to 6 at the Miller Center on Wednesday, May 22.
“The Youth Media Initiative is an exciting program not only because it has PSAs created by Berks County teens, but also because the students had the chance to tell the stories that have impacted their lives,” Hayden Craddolph, Founder and Executive Director of Haydenfilms Institute, describes. “We are looking forward to visiting the local and regional schools to showcase the PSAs and facilitate dialogue that will inspire change in our communities.”
The event is open to the public and will bring together participants of the Youth Media Initiative, their families and partners involved in the program. It will also showcase the powerful PSAs created by the Reading youth. Following the PSAs’ debut, a panel consisting of industry professionals and Reading community leaders will formally kickstart the Online PSA Festival by explaining the voting process. For a 60-day period, Haydenfilms will host the videos on its website, www.haydenfilmsinstitute.org, for the public to vote on their favorites. The creators of the top three winning PSAs will then share a $10,000 scholarship, which will be presented to them at a concluding ceremony slated for fall 2013.
The panel will also lead a discussion about the Youth Media Initiative and its impact on the Reading community. Current panel participants include State Senator Judith L. Schwank (D-11th), Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer, Reading Police Chief William Heim, and award-winning filmmaker Michael Attardi, who will also speak to the importance of media literacy, reducing youth violence, and the power of film.
"Who could send a more powerful message on the troublesome social issues that our youth face today than their peers?” Senator Schwank remarks. “I'm excited to see the PSAs that the students have created. These 50 talented youth have an important story to tell and participating in the Youth Media Initiative has given them the skills and expertise to communicate their thoughts. This has been a transformative experience for the students which will help them further their educational and career goals."
Haydenfilms Institute’s Youth Media Initiative, which took place from October to December 2012, brought 50 Reading youth together at Kutztown University to create positive prevention messages in the form of PSAs, for their peers and their communities. During the eight-week (64 hours) curriculum, the students wrote, directed and shot 30-second PSAs for ten Reading-based nonprofits, addressing violence, substance abuse and other social issues that affect them and their community. The stories and themes featured in the PSAs came directly from the students and their individual backgrounds and experiences, a unique facet of the Initiative that makes the students’ productions so powerful.
In addition to working with the ten nonprofits, students received additional guidance from Haydenfilms 4.0 Online Film Festival Winner Johnny Ray Gill. Currently an actor and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, Gill is best known for roles on NBC's "Harry's Law" and HBO's "True Blood”. He currently plays Kerwin Whittman in the new and highly anticipated television series “Rectify”, which debuted April 22, 2013, on the Sundance Channel.
“For me as an artist, it’s fantastic to be working on a show [Rectify] that is so culturally and socially relevant and then also to be doing that from a community standpoint with Haydenfilms that is relevant and pertinent to what’s going on in society,” Gill explains. “The PSAs are valuable to [the Reading youth] because they got an opportunity to really put themselves to work and really think about serious issues and how to tell a story that matters to them, [stories] that often will be ignored in a larger societal conversation. I think that’s why the PSAs we have are so raw and so interesting. We have a fresh perspective on public service announcements … There’s a great grassroots spirit to it.”
The May 22 screening and panel discussion will also coincide with the announcement of the Haydenfilms Institute documentary. Currently in production, the documentary follows the conception of and inaugural year of the Youth Media Initiative and how Haydenfilms brings its mission to life.
“We believe in the power of our youth, united with others around a common cause, to reduce violence,” Craddolph says. “Teaching them how to use their voice is our responsibility as leaders, and these stories will ultimately transcend boundaries on a global scale. Together we are working towards developing critical and creative abilities in our students when it comes to the media.”