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The mission of the Newport News Public Library is to “Connect, Inspire, Enrich, and Empower”. We continually seek ways to engage with our community, in particular our youth population. When planning for our 2022 summer programs, we wanted to develop a project that would be of interest to our youth and allow them to develop new and transferrable skills. Our Media Services Coordinator, who has a background in film, had an idea that she hoped would engage and inspire our teen population and provide fun and exciting activities for them to participate in during the summer. The Make it Reel program was developed in order to give teens the tools needed to express themselves creatively through film and tell their own stories in their own voice. 

The Make it Reel program, offered in the Main Street Library’s Digital Media Lab, was a six-week filmmaking series that introduced youth ages 12-17 to the art of filmmaking. During this program, participants attended a series of workshops to learn how to develop, shoot, and edit their own films. Workshop sessions included: An Introduction to Filmmaking, Writing for the Screen, Cutting for Continuity, the Art of Reading Film, and Mise en Scène. 

Participants also attended a workshop that focused on screenwriting with Olivia Germann Mclain, a creative writing teacher from Woodside High School. During one of the workshops, participants had a handson experience and learned the art of set design. They built arcade machines out of cardboard. There was an emphasis on being resourceful, which made the program more accessible than the average film workshop. The participants were encouraged to use the resources they had at their disposal, whether by using library resources such as Premiere Pro (available in the Digital Media Lab at the Main Street Library), using friends and family for cast or crew, or using their phone’s camera to film their projects. 

The participants developed their own story lines, wrote their own scripts, selected their own cast members as needed, and selected shoot locations for their films. During the six-week period, we saw blossoming young film makers put their ideas to film. Their excitement grew as they progressed through the program and learned new skills. A sense of camaraderie developed between the young filmmakers as they supported one another in their projects. 

Their hard work paid off and they produced quality films where they focused on the technical aspects including film and sound quality, set design, and storyline. The participants showcased their films during a Make it Reel Mini Fest that was open to the public followed by an awards ceremony. Family, friends, and community members had an opportunity to view the films and meet the young filmmakers during the reception that followed the ceremony.

Make It Reel 2022

Anita N. Jennings, Director, Newport News Public Library 

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