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Mini Moviemakers: Filmmaking Classes and Camps for Kids Around Seattle

Young filmmakers, directors and storytellers will love these creative programs around Seattle

Published on: February 24, 2016

Courtesy Northwest Film Forum

Picture this. The scene is interior, a drizzling rain outside the window. Four filmmakers and a consultant sit in leather chairs, assigning roles for their first project together — the story of a mind-reading cop who uncovers a murder plot at the Seattle Center food court.

Upstairs, another group is planning camera shots for a mockumentary montage of the post-breakup life of a Beatles-like rock band, The Cockroaches. Nearby, a third group storyboards its concept of a film crew that blows an undercover cop’s secret identity — as Santa Claus.

These filmmakers are all in middle school. They have been given four story prompts, handheld cameras and eight hours. At the end of the day, they will join their parents in the Seattle International Film Festival Theater at Seattle Center to watch the movies they have made.

Welcome to SIFF’s Crash Kids workshop, a non-competitive movie-production challenge that takes 9- to 12-year-old participants from movie concept to movie screening over the course of a day. The eight-hour, professionally mentored workshops cost $50. There is a discount for SIFF members, and need-based scholarships are available. Registration is open for the next workshop to be held on May 7.

Crash Kids is one of several youth filmmaking programs offered under the umbrella of SIFF’s FutureWave program. Crash Student for teens and college students follows the same format as Crash Kids, except that teams are mentored by peers who are alumni of the program and are given more independence. The cost is correspondingly lower, at only $10 for nonmembers. The next Crash Student workshop is April 2. (If this sounds like fun, there is a corresponding Crash Cinema Challenge for adults.)

Courtesy Northwest Film Forum

SIFF summer filmmaking camps for kids

SIFF also hosts spring and summer break camps for tweens and teens. (Registration for the $325 spring break camp is currently open.) SIFF summer camps begin June 27 and run weekly through August 26. Campers complete a short film each week, making the camps appropriate as stand-alone projects. But each week the process is presented through the lens of a particular aspect of filmmaking, giving repeat campers a more sophisticated understanding of filmmaking in addition to iterative practice. The first four weeks are open to all level students from age 10–16. The final week will be a production camp for advanced filmmakers ages 12–16 and for members of TheFilmSchool's Teen Script Writing and Directing Camp (see below).

Another neat opportunity for film-minded kids is to participate in a SIFF youth jury for the Seattle International Film Festival: Film fanatics between ages 8 and 18 can apply to join the juries for the SIFF’s Films4Families and FutureWave film programs during the 2016 Seattle International Film Festival. (Those applications are due March 31.)

Kids can also submit films to SIFF's short-film competition for filmmakers under 18. Submissions for the FutureWave Shorts Competition are due March 1. 

Other filmmaking camps and programs for kids around the Sound

Seattle International Film Festival is not the only filmmaking program for kids in Seattle, especially during the summertime. From feminist empowerment to acting workshops and pre-professional production skills, a camp may fit your kids’ filmmaking interests.

TheFilmSchool is best known for its intensive three-week filmmaking program for adults. This summer TheFilmSchool is offering a camp on script writing and directing for teens ages 13–17 during the week of August 15-19. The camp, held at SIFF’s headquarters at Seattle Center, will cost $350 and guarantees admission into SIFF’s advanced Production Camp the following week.

Courtesy Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)

Northwest Film Forum offers camps for two age groups with an emphasis on collaboration, storytelling, local explorations and technology. Most camps cost $350 for nonmembers. Kids have several camps to choose from.

  • At Mobile Filmmaking from June 27–July 1, kids ages 8–12 will make films using iPods, IPads and cell phones.

  • Classic Film Fun from August 15–19 will take kids 8–12 around town to recreate a classic silent film.

  • Citizen Minutes Camp from July 11–16 engages teens (13–17) in Northwest Film Forum's Citizen's Minutes video initiative, which convenes local filmmakers, artists and community members to explore topical conversations through super short videos of all artistic styles and genres.

  • Northwest Film Forum's two-week Film Academy Intensive/Festival Edition ($650) will help teens create high quality films for submission to film festivals. Scholarships are available for all programs. 

Seattle Reel Grrls is another terrific program. Female media professionals and educators teach girls ages 9–21 production skills through hands-on workshops and classes. Courses are taught through a feminist lens that emphasizes a safe environment for girls to express themselves, gain media literacy and tackle social issues that affect their lives. (Programming for 2016 is still under development.)

Seattle Film Institute offers certificate, B.A. and graduate programs in all aspects of film. Their two-week summer teen program (July 5–15 and July 18–29) helps teens develop skills in video production. Regular camps cost $790, advanced camp (Aug. 1–12) is $995. A week-long acting camp is offered twice during the summer for $450.

Do-it-yourself filmmaking

Kids can get creative on their own, too. There are literally dozens of apps for filmmaking. Here are a few of the most fun.

iMovie: For $4.99, your kid can download iMovie, the entry-level filmmaking app for iPhone.

iMotion HD: For stop-motion animation, they can use the free app iMotion HD.

GreenScreen Movie FX: For $1.99, get the ability to use a special effect known as Chroma Key or Green Screen. A must for action movies.

Toontastic: This free storytelling and creative learning tool enables kids to draw, animate and share their own cartoons with friends and family.

FiLMiC Pro: For $9.99, turn your mobile device into a broadcast-worthy, High Definition video camera. 

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