The Baranov Museum runs a film workshop for students which recently made it into the running for a national awards program. The National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Awards recognize extracurricular programs that encourage youth, and in a press release, the Baranov Museum writes that its film intensive made it onto a list of 50 finalists out of 301 applicants.
Tiffany Brunson, Baranov Museum executive director, says the museum’s Summer Youth Film and History Intensive is a two-week course for middle and high schoolers and covers history topics related to Kodiak.
She says in 2012, the first year of the program, students did stories about Filipinos in Kodiak. Last year, they addressed climate change in the community. And, while each year has a theme, Brunson says students cover the topic in a different way.
“We’re really giving these kids the opportunity to tell their own stories. They’re given a topic, but they have a lot of leeway within that as to who they interview, how they set up their films, what parts they choose to emphasize, what footage they take, what research they find, so they really get the opportunity to create something that’s their own.”
Brunson emphasizes that, like the museum itself, the film intensive is a small program, and the museum has struggled to fund it.
“And it really means a lot to us that, on a national level, we’ve been recognized for the work that we’re doing. The kids do an amazing job every year. A lot of them are returning students, as in they’ve taken the film intensive before. So, they come back every year to do it. We like to watch them grow with it. We get to watch the quality of their films grow, as well as their own self-confidence, which is amazing.”
She says they’ve received support from the school district and from the programs like A-K-Teach, a distance education program. Anthony White, the State-Wide Virtual Learning and STEM Content Coordinator with AKTeach, says the film intensive integrates a lot of the things he’s passionate about, like filmmaking and teaching students how to use technology to create art.
White says one of the most rewarding aspects of his role as an instructor is seeing the students’ progress on 3-to-5 minute videos that take hours of research, interviewing, and editing to prepare.
“I mean, they literally start with a blank slate, they start with a basic topic, maybe a few sentences about that topic, but they have to work from there and build it all the way up. And just to watch them create that and shape it, it’s like a piece of clay, it starts as a block, and now they’re shaping it into this beautiful piece.”
According to the Baranov Museum press release, the theme of this year’s film intensive will be the science and history of the fishing industry in Kodiak, and students should apply by May 13 to take the course in June.
Brunson says the Baranov will discover if the program made the final list of 12 recipients at the end of June. Winners receive $10,000 and an invitation to a ceremony in Washington D.C., where First Lady Michelle Obama grants them their award.