Changemakers and Filmmakers: Vermont and South Carolina Students Learn from One Another

May 21st, 2020 | By | Category: BLTN NextGen, NextGen South Carolina, NextGen Vermont, Spring 2020

Images by Michael Dantzler of Michael Dantzler Photography courtesy of the Write to Change Foundation

A team of youth changemakers gathered in February at Aiken High School in Aiken, South Carolina to learn elements of documentary filmmaking. This cross-site sharing and learning is part of the BLTN’s Next Generation Leadership Network and was supported by the SNAVE , Bay and Paul, and Write to Change foundations.

The Vermont team traveled to work with their peers—youth from the rural South Carolina site of the network, BLTN NextGen – SC. Vermont youth have become skilled in documentary work through their participation in What’s the Story? The Vermont Young Person Social Action Team, a free course for Vermont secondary students and one of the many advocacy efforts across the seven-site NextGen network. 

“This is why we do this—for youth to learn ways to better understand themselves and help to change their worlds,” commented Tim O’Leary, What’s the Story? Vermont’s Co-Director. “One NextGen tenet is to add youth voices to larger community, state, and national conversations about issues that directly impact youth. Adding film production to the South Carolina students’ tool belt will give them the chance to take their work further than we have yet been able to.”

“This workshop also allowed us to collaborate intensively with Vermont NextGen members, to share our experiences across distance, and to strengthen the network,” added Lillian Reeves, assistant professor at USC Aiken and BLTN NextGen-SC site co-director. 

Among the outcomes of the visit were the delivery of six media kits for use in BLTN NextGen SC, an ongoing professional exchange between O’Leary and photographer Michael Dantzler, and new technical knowledge, relationships, and enthusiasm for both teams of young people.

“I learned so much about angles and why a wide shot may be more fitting for a certain scene than others. My favorite aspect of the workshop was learning Hhow to edit. It was really interesting to see how you can manipulate voice overs and captions in stortelling through film. The biggest lesson was how to convey a story. I also gained some   technique when it came to the positioning of the camera and capturing the moment in the proper lighting and frame. Lighting is everything!” -Azaria, BLTN NextGen SC

“…Throughout the trip, I learned about how our lives are different from Vermont to South Carolina. They shared a sense of connection and community… they had a place where they felt comfortable and connected with one another. What brought joy to me was getting a glimpse of this unique connection and bring the joy of creating new connections and meeting new people…and I am still in touch with many of them. Overall, this trip was an eye-opener that showed how different the lives are of students around my age, and it shows how different the culture is around the country, and around the world.” -Samara, BLTN NextGen VT

“I would like to say that it was really fun to work with the people from Vermont. And it was a great experience to not only record but to also edit and show others the short film we made.” – Sammie, BLTN NextGen SC 

BLTN NextGen founder Dixie Goswami commended the NextGen SC social action team in Aiken for serving locally as mentors to children, teens, and youth-serving organizations, leading Family Literacy Nights, after-school sports and learning sessions, and serving as statewide as resources to organizations involved in providing equitable opportunities for youth in low-income rural (and other) communities. BLTN NextGen SC is partnered with the South Carolina Arts Commission’s “Art of Community: South Carolina Rural.” 

One Comment to “Changemakers and Filmmakers: Vermont and South Carolina Students Learn from One Another”

  1. Genithia Hogges says:

    It’s great to see how BLTN resources are being shared around the country while students are teaching and learning from one another. Equitable access is key.

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