“Bah! These kids today … they’ve got it sooo easy. What with their hi-definition digital video cameras and their state of the art editing software and their YouTubes and whatnot! Why, back in my day, Kevin Smith had to beg, borrow and endanger his credit rating in order to scrounge up film stock, and little Bobby Rodriguez actually rented himself out for medical experiments in order to make his first movie! And get off my lawn!”

(The grumpy old filmmaker sketch, everyone …)

I try not to be grumpy myself; new technology has made filmmaking relatively affordable and avail-able, and the Internet has provided access to viewers as well. I will say, however, that the democratization of the filmmaking process has had its drawbacks. Not everyone with a camera has something to say, or the skills to present a coherent vision.

But young Maine filmmakers have options. Like Project Aware.

A nonprofit youth empowerment/activist organization dedicated to helping Maine youth take charge of their lives and make healthy choices, Project Aware holds workshops at Maine schools and produces public service announcements and educational feature films each August at its Summer Film Institute.

Carl Lakari, co-founder of Project Aware, explains that participants in the program (ages 13-18) learn virtually every aspect of the filmmaking process. Working on HD video, students take an active role in everything from casting to location scouting to editing to writing and directing, all under the tutelage of the filmmaking professionals from Gum Spirits production (the Maine company behind feature films “Three Priests” and “Sundowning”).

Lakari says the Summer Film Institute is a lively mix of aspiring filmmakers and aspiring activists from all over Maine, collaborating and sharing ideas on making movies and making their voices heard.

The initial deadline to apply is June 30 (although, should demand grow, a second week will be added). Fees are $495, and some scholarships are available. Contact Project Aware at 282-5598 or [email protected]


Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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