Sound…Camera…Action! Maine Teens Making Movies

This week, we welcome a guest blogger — Faith, a high school student from the greater Bangor area.

A group of twenty-five teens sat in a room, buzzing with excitement at the chance to voice their opinion. In public, the topic they were discussing would cause some awkward stares, hushed voices, and very quiet teenagers.

Sexual health is one of those topics that is rarely discussed seriously, but is incredibly important to be informed about. When I was given the chance to educate parents and  teens, I – along with many others – jumped on it.

I’m Faith, a teen heavily involved with a group called Project AWARE. Project AWARE is a non-profit organization based in Southern Maine, whose goal is to empower and educate youth by giving them the opportunity to make movies or videos on very important topics in life.

The Family Planning Association of Maine contracted with Project AWARE to help them create a 10-20 minute movie on teen sexual health, along with four one-to-two-minute videos, called scenarios.

This long journey to create the movie began last December.

A group of us teens and adults sat in a room and tossed around our thoughts on sexual health and what problems we had seen around us. Pregnancy scares, STD’s, friends having unprotected sex, and taking that step to get birth control were many of the things discussed. Every teen and adult in the room was open, encouraging, and honest with a topic that can be hard for some to talk about.

Meetings like these continued for months. While some teens were working on the movie, others were working on scenarios. As time went on, conflicts were given characters, and characters were given names. Three story lines — the results of getting an STD, a boy’s girlfriend becoming pregnant, and a girl in an abusive relationship became the plot for our movie. Three different main characters, with three stories that intertwined over time.

Although it seems as if this would be an easy decision to come to, story development is very complex and also critical to getting teens engaged and educated through film. A good, realistic storyline with strong, relatable characters is what makes teens take movies seriously. At this point in the process, we were focusing on the plot, what our characters’ conflicts were, and how they dealt with them.

After finally finishing story development, three teens took on the role of screenwriting for the movie. I was one of them, along with Hanna and Lindsay, who worked on the project from the very beginning. After figuring out the order the scenes go in, each of us took a separate character and wrote their story. Some editing followed this, and eventually, we had a finished script.

Filming – possibly the most exciting part – came next. Gum Spirits Productions, a film production company out of southern Maine often works with Project AWARE, by providing professional equipment, editing, and their time to help teach teens the art of film-making.

Teens took on roles some never imagined they could, including directing the film, doing the sound, assistant directing, hair and wardrobe, and even working the camera. This spanned over the course of five and a half days, which were long and incredibly rewarding.

~ Faith

Editor’s Note: This fall the FPA will host a movie premiere to showcase the terrific work done by the teens and adults involved in this project. Also, be on the lookout for part two of this story as Faith writes from her perspective about the issue of teen sexual health.

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