Theater / Film

Festival gives young filmmakers chance to learn about craft, show skills

Written By Sergy Odiduro
July 17, 2023 at 11:03 AM

Deondre Marshall hones his filmmaking skills as part of URGENT, Inc.’s  Film Arts Culture Entrepreneurship Program (FACE). He’ll be one of the participants in the Miami 4 Social Change Youth Film Festival on Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21 at Miami Dade College, North Campus. (Photo courtesy of Deion Mendez)

Don’t you just hate it when someone steals your lunch?

This common conundrum is the subject of  “Dan’s Lunch,” one of 50 short films that will be screened at this year’s eighth annual Miami 4 Social Change Youth Film Festival.

The film, directed by Charmiana Delphonse, was plucked from over 600 submissions and will be shown during a two-day event that begins on Thursday, July 20 and Friday, July 21 at Miami Dade College, North Campus, Conference Center.

Saliha Nelson, Ed.D., and CEO of URGENT, Inc., a youth development program in Miami, is the festival’s producer, and says that the screening puts young filmmakers like Delphonse center stage.

A scene from “Dan’s Lunch,” a short film directed by Charmiana Delphonse, which will screen at this year’s eighth annual Miami 4 Social Change Youth Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of URGENT, Inc.)

“The festival is a way for them to show their films and compete against international storytellers in the same age range,” says Nelson. “This is a great platform not only to celebrate our students and the work that they created to compete, but it is also an opportunity for them to network with their peers . . .”

Presented by URGENT, Inc., in collaboration with Miami Dade College North Campus and the School of Entertainment and Design Technology, Nelson says the group of filmmakers is diverse and the genres run the gamut from music videos, public service announcements, animations, live-action shorts to documentaries.

Submission requirements were that films needed to be eight minutes or less, the content needed to focus on a social change theme, and filmmakers needed to be 24 years old or younger. Only original works were accepted.

In addition to getting their films screened, there’s a learning initiative included, too. The “Shoot Your Shot!” pitch competition gives young filmmakers a chance to introduce their film proposals. “Content creators between the ages of 15 and 17 will have 90 seconds to pitch their film ideas to prospective judges who will see if they have the presentation, the ideas, and innovation . . .”

Charmiana Delphonse directing one of her films that will be screened at the 2023 Miami 4 Social Change Youth Film Festival. Working with her is Clifford Charles. Her three films are “Loosen Up,” “Sock,” and “Dan’s Lunch.” (Photo courtesy of Saliha Crespo)

There will also be panel discussions, which Nelson says will be facilitated by local industry professionals.

“We’ll have a Media Empowerment Industry panel so they can learn about different careers in the industry.”

Actor, model and motivational speaker Sergio Delavicci returns for the third year as the festival’s special guest along with hip hop artist Damon “Kool Rock-Ski” Wimbley, formerly of the Fat Boys.

“Because this is the 50-year anniversary of hip hop and its influence in film and soundtrack, we’re going to have old school hip hop artist (Damon) and he’ll be coming to share about how  (the Fat Boys) got started with hip hop in the film industry when they were young, so the kids will have some history as well,” says Nelson.

Educating participants about the entertainment industry is one of the festival’s primary goals and it is also an offshoot of Urgent, Inc.’s  annual Film Arts Culture Entrepreneurship Program (FACE).

Saliha Nelson, Ed.D., CEO at URGENT, Inc., and producer of Miami 4 Social Change Youth Film Festival with Marco Giron, chief of film and entertainment for Miami-Dade County, at the 2022 festival. (Photo courtesy of Deon Gedeon)

Nelson encourages those who are interested to apply. Additional information is available on the website.

“The Film Festival is an opportunity that we’ve developed because we run our own film program,” says Nelson. “We hire high school students who are interested in film, and they work with us as interns year ’round. And so, not only do they learn how to be storytellers and learn the technical aspects of camerawork and storytelling, but they also get professional development and mentorship with a series of industry professionals.”

Delphonse admits that when she first began in the program in 2022 she really wasn’t invested in the craft of moviemaking.

“I was always interested in film. I watched a lot of movies and TV shows but I didn’t have much knowledge about film. I wasn’t that type of person who watched the credits at the end,” says Delphonse.

But as a pre-apprentice, her interest has grown.

Another short film directed by Charmiana Delphonse is “Loosen Up,” which will be screened at the festival. (Photo courtesy of URGENT, Inc.)

In addition to her being a director in “Dan’s Lunch,” she is also the assistant director in “Loosen Up,” as well as an editor and actress in “Sock,” all of which will be screened at the festival.

Delphonse says that her time with FACE and her participation in the three short films has been an eye-opening experience.  She says the program and the film festival have challenged her to face her fears and how to work hard to achieve her goals.

“They taught me a lot about film in a short period of time.  . . .They also taught me about real-world etiquette,” she says. “I wasn’t used to the discipline that I was given. The real film industry, you know, it’s hard. It’s not easy. You have to have tough skin. It’s not about what you’re comfortable with. It’s about breaking that bubble.”

Film, television actor and model Sergio Delavicci returns as a special guest for Miami 4 Social Change Youth Film Festival. Delavicci is pictured speaking during the 2022 event. (Photo courtesy of Saliha Crespo)

She is planning to attend Valencia Community College in Orlando this fall; her focus will be to get training in the film and entertainment industry, says Delphonse.

Nelson hopes that others will attend the festival and ultimately gain a positive experience.

“We want young people to come out and see other young filmmakers who’ve submitted their ideas. And also to learn about issues that they may not be aware of. It’s going to be a fun time. It’s going to be engaging. It’s going to be entertaining, but it’s also going to be really educational.”

WHAT: Miami 4 Social Change Youth Film Festival

WHERE:  Miami Dade College, North Campus, Conference Center, Bldg. 3, 11380 NW 27th Ave.,

WHEN: Thursday, July 20  and Friday, July 21.

COST: $20 adults, those up to 21 years of age are free. 

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