Creativity comes from within, except in places like the Scaife Building. The Tudor revival mansion in Mellon Park, formerly known as “Millionaires Row,” garnishes thick walls that emit a fragrance like the most untouched shelves of an ancient library. It is nostalgic, but in a way that encourages creation rather than reflection, like a disco ball. This grand structure is not a museum. It is a living, breathing studio where artifacts are made instead of stored; where future artists first put their hands on clay, or in the case of First Waves, make their first edits to an adventure film.
After two intensive workshops of filmmaking, paddleboarding, and conservation, the First Waves group was here to collaborate and edit films that showcased their work and experiences over the summer. Filmmaking instructors Susan Howard and Louis Cappa of the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media Program provided a lecture about using Final Cut X, a professional grade editing software, and guided the team on their own personal edits of the interviews and video they shot throughout the program.
You could have pulled off an eye examination as the students stared intently at their work, ears muffled by headphones and hands dancing across their keyboards. Occasionally, Susan would highlight specific functions of the software by showing clips on a projector. Some of the footage resulted in raucous laughter. There were inglorious crashes, interviews gone wrong, and plenty of awkward shots of instructors and students alike. In equal parts, however, were powerful scenes of pollution removal, hard work, and enjoyment. It was immediately apparent that the team had achieved something special.
They had shown how a group of strangers could be brought together through the enjoyment of paddling, surfing, and conservation. Standing in front of a heaping pile of garbage that they removed from Pittsburgh’s riverbanks, they demonstrated what was possible using just a handful of kayaks, paddleboards, trash bags and cameras. They didn’t preach about the work that needed done or complain about the river being too dirty. Instead, they set aside their preconceptions, sought the truth from their own experience, and did something about it. Asking for nothing in return, except maybe some hand sanitizer and pizza, these students created a model of watershed stewardship that our community can be inspired by.
As the final workshop of the First Waves program came to an end, participants left with a CD of their own personal film. Their contributions and collaborative thoughts about the program will be culminated in a short film due to release at a screening in the winter of 2015.
To learn more about the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media Group, please go to: http://pfm.pittsburgharts.org/education/young_adult
This project supported in part by the Hive Fund for Connected Learning at The Sprout Fund.