Oakland Innovation Film Lab – Youth Mobile Media Workshop

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by Robyn Bykofsky

I have been facilitating media literacy and video production workshops with Bay Area youth and educators for over 12 years and the Youth Film Lab was the experience of a lifetime.  It was the first workshop I taught in which teens produced and edited their videos within 4.5 hours and then an hour later screened the videos to a live audience at the Oakland School of the Arts Black Box Theater.
How did we accomplish this task? First, we had a talented and motivated group of 14 teens from all over Oakland. Second, TILT (the youth media program at Ninth Street Independent Film Center) and Disposable Film Festival (DFF) crafted an action-packed curriculum that had the teens on the flip cameras right away. Teens were able to express themselves in the hands-on video activity When People See Me. This effective icebreaker allowed the teens to quickly get to know each other and therefore they were ready to jump into a brief discussion about using mobile media for social action and change.

The next hands-on camera activity focused on Media Aesthetics and the importance of framing camera shots, sound and lighting. Teens were broke into teams of two to explore the neighborhood as they practiced different types of camera shot-sizes, angles, and movement.

Extreme close up of a small object that has big meaning
  • Smooth pan of the street
  • A shot (any size and angle) of a reflection that represents YOU
  • Smooth tilt up to a positive message


Once the group had a chance to practice and explore, it was time to move onto the main mobile media event…Mobile Mission Speed Production.  Once again the teens broke into teams of two to brainstorm topics and themes related to success, leadership, learning, education, etc.  Since time was limited – only 1 hour to per-production and production, each step of the process was timed.

  • Brainstorming – 5 min
  • Deciding on an idea – 5 min
  • Writing 1-2 sentence synopsis describing the message of the short video – 5 min
  • Writing a shot list – (what will the video look like) – 15 min
  • Video shoot – 30 min

After a very short break the production teams spent the next 2 hours editing, which included getting acquainted with iMovie – learning its advantages and limitations; making difficult editing decisions – what shots to keep? What shots to delete? Add video transition that would lend to the storytelling; choosing royalty-free music that will help in the delivery of the message; and adding credits.

During the teens dinner break, Katie (Managing Director of DFF), Jason (TILT Assistant Instructor), and myself (TILT Youth Media Manager) worked diligently in exporting the 6 short videos and prepping them for the Screening at 7:30pm. Check out the videos below (This playlist has all six videos. To view another video, click "play" and then click on the smaller "play" icon on the bottom right side of the player.)

This was an amazing experience and I look forward to partnering with KQED and DFF for another whirlwind mobile media workshop. 
I also want to give a big shout out to the teen media makers…
Thank you Ana, Anthony, Aramonti, Bela, Elijah, Gervonne, Jaison, Justine, Katie, Marvin, Nakia, Tiffany, Tiphereth, and Ysabelle!!!