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Lights, Camera, Action!

Imagine spending summer school making award-winning films. Fifteen Chicago public school students get the opportunity each year, with help from the Independent Feature Project.

Juniors and seniors from the television production class at Chicago Vocational Career Academy get paid to direct, operate a camera, or light the set for four hours a day while their teachers, and professional producers and technicians hired by IFP, provide on-the-job training. As the students prepare the screenplay, shoot on location and edit the final program in just six weeks, they learn valuable production skills from film professionals and practice communicating their creative ideas to their classmates.

Though the mentorship program has existed for only a couple of years, it has been extremely successful: The film produced by the 2005 class, "Scream at Me," made the rounds of the festival circuit and won a number of awards. But beyond the accolades, the workshop tackles what the IFP calls "the chronic lack of diversity in independent film" by educating minority youth about the film industry and its possibilities. The IFP hopes its program will inspire young people to develop their personal interests into achievable goals.

Related Links

Find out more about the IFP's summer program, and their 2006 production "The Last Stain."

Explore another filmmaking program for young people in Chicago at Street Level Youth Media.

Find some fine features at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival.

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Get a behind-the-scenes peek as students from Chicago Vocational Career Academy shoot scenes from "The Last Stain"


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Students on the set of "The Last Stain" during the first day of production.

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Cameraman Tim Boyd assists with the production.

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Students shoot a scene from "The Last Stain."


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