There is an exciting opportunity underway for young aspiring filmmakers residing or attending school in the Berkshire Taconic region! 

The Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative has partnered with the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Civic Life Project to present the “Bridging Divides, Healing Communities Youth Film Challenge.” Now through November 1st, the challenge invites teens and young adults ages 14 to 24 to create a short film of 6 minutes or less that tackles a specific problem or inequity.  

Zydalis Bauer spoke with Diane Pearlman, Executive Director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative to learn more.  


Read the full transcription:

Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: There’s an exciting opportunity underway for young aspiring filmmakers residing or attending school in the Berkshire Taconic region. T

he Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative has partnered with the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation and the Civic Life Project to present “Bridging Divides, Healing Communities: Youth Film Challenge.” Now through November 1st, the challenge invites teens and young adults ages 14 to 24 to create a short film of six minutes or less that tackles a specific problem or inequity.

Zydalis Bauer spoke with Diane Pearlman, Executive Director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, to learn more.

Diane Pearlman, Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative: I got a call from Peter Taylor, the head of Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, because they were doing a whole series of lectures for adults around the Bridging Divides, Healing Communities initiative. And Peter called and said, “What do you think about doing something for young people?”

And the Civic Life Project, run by Catherine and Dominique, had been in existence prior — they had actually done a film competition for young people right before the election, having them do films about civics. So, it was sort of a great partnership between the three of us.

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: This challenge is targeted for individuals who are aged 14 to 24 years old, and the prompt is to think about how to address global problems and inequities either in your community or beyond.

Why was it important for you to engage young people with this challenge and why was this chosen as the focus for the prompt?

Diane Pearlman: Our young people are very engaged in all of the topics — whether it’s homelessness or refugees or global warming, or LGBTQ+ issues. So, we’re very excited to see what people come up with.

Zydalis Bauer: In an article for the Berkshire Edge, you said quote, “It’s very important to give a voice to young people right now.”

Talk about how digital storytelling can be an effective communication tool.

Diane Pearlman: I think digital storytelling is the effective communication tool going forward. And, you know, I think that it’s the older people that have to catch up with the younger people, in some ways. They know how effective social media is.

They know … they are watching films, complete films, on their phones where some of us are like, “Well, why aren’t you going to movie theater?” They’re just used to getting their news, their entertainment on a phone or a laptop or an iPad. It’s just the way that they operate.

Zydalis Bauer: How does this challenge translate into real-life career skills for the participants, whether they want to pursue a career in media or not?

Diane Pearlman: There are just some basics that we’re teaching. How to tell a good story; that’s what I’m finding is the biggest challenge for everyone, right? How do you tell a short story that’s effective? Part of the other thinking was to offer these workshops in editing, and how to shoot an interview, and what is B-roll.

I think we’re at a point where if organizations — nonprofits or even for profit companies — are going to use social media, they are going to need to know how to tell a good story.

And so, these are skills that our young people can acquire now and learn from our professionals in the region.

Zydalis Bauer: As you mentioned, the deadline is November 1st. What will the selection process be like and what can the winners expect?

Diane Pearlman: We have a panel of distinguished judges, professionals that are in the industry that will be judging the films. The top three winners will receive cash prizes. We will probably select those winners from a pool of five or six finalists, and those finalists will have their film screened at three area theaters and participate in Q&As and possibly panel.

And I think it’s a great way for our young people to really get their voice out there in the community.

Zydalis Bauer: I think another great thing about this challenge is that it’s going to create a nice pool of local candidates for local media or organizations to pull from, and they’ll have that life experience through this project.

Diane Pearlman: I think there are a lot of organizations that would take on interns who have this kind of experience, whether they come on board for a nonprofit to help with social media, whether they want to go into journalism and they call you for an internship.

I think our young people know this: that social media is not going away, it’s how people are doing their marketing and communication, whether it’s through donors, whether you’re using video to train employees.

And so, I think what we’re offering young people are just some skills, more skills to become more facile in a medium that they’re already pretty good at.

Zydalis Bauer: As the executive director of the Berkshire Film and Media Collaborative, what would you love to see come out of this challenge?

Diane Pearlman: I’m excited to see some really great films. I’m excited to see what issues are important to our young people in the region. I think it isn’t just to tell what the problems are, but for them to possibly come up with solutions.

I think we need to listen to our young people, they are in tune with what’s going on in the world and they have opinions and I think we should offer them a seat at the table.