Indie Memphis points to creative future with first Youth Film Fest
A day of workshops, seminars and other activities highlighted by a public screening of 27 short films made by Memphis-area students, the inaugural Indie Memphis Youth Film Fest at the Halloran Centre is an ambitious attempt to assist, motivate and showcase the next generation of visual storytellers.
The kids apparently don’t need much encouragement: More than 40 films were submitted after the event was announced less than three months ago.
“Movies today seem like what books were to me when I was growing up,” said Brett Robbs,
70, a longtime university professor and advertising professional who is volunteer chairman of the Youth Film Fest committee, which narrowed the films to a roughly two-hour program. “The use of iphones and everything has made film a natural vocabulary for kids.”
But do the kids have something interesting, important or original to say with this “natural vocabulary”?
“For me, one of the meaningful things and a reason for adults to see these films is that they give an insight into what teens are thinking about,” Robbs said. “And they are thinking about teenage depression and gun violence and race, and they’re expressing themselves in a powerful, creative way, in both narrative and documentary films. These may not always be the most polished pieces of filmmaking, but the chance to see what matters to young people is inspiring.”
Made possible by a $10,000 grant via the GIVE365 initiative of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Youth Film Fest is an answer to a question that Indie Memphis executive director Ryan Watt says he hears frequently.
“We have parents and teachers and even students asking us all the time about opportunities for young filmmakers,” Watt said. “By helping to encourage and inspire these students, and letting them see their films in a large, beautiful auditorium with their peers and other moviegoers, we feel like we are building something for the future that could have a great impact. It could go beyond Memphis in terms of what these young people are able to create.”
Jack Prudhomme, 16, a 10thgrade student at Christian Brothers High School, agrees.
“It sounds like it’s going to be really fun,” he said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of connections that can be made with other kids who make films.”
Titled “You’ve Been a Good Boy,” Prudhomme’s film, shot mostly in an alley off Union Avenue near Downtown, is a mysterious mini-drama with a “Twilight Zone” edge. “It was very,