In Our Schools Today

Student filmmakers make their big screen debuts

Student filmmakers speak about their original films at the Tribeca Film Institute

Seventeen aspiring New York City student filmmakers made their debuts on the big screen this past summer.

After spending six weeks at the Department of Education’s Summer Arts Institute Film Studio, public school students from across the City screened their original films at the Tribeca Film Institute. 

“It couldn’t have been more fun,” George Itzhak, a junior at the Baccalaureate School for Global Education in Queens, said. “I’m definitely going to pursue a film career.” 

At the Film Studio, students learned to write, direct, and produce their own original short films. In groups, they created a short documentary or narrative film on the theme of this year’s program, New York City neighborhoods. Each group chose a neighborhood and showcased one of its distinguishing features, such as cuisine, music, or transportation.

Instructor Robert Gladding said the Film Studio teaches student filmmakers many new skills and helps them to make great strides toward pursing careers in the film industry.  

“The program pushes the kids to work at what is very close to a professional level,” he said. “Students get to focus on something they love doing every day for nearly the whole summer. It gives them a sense not just of confidence, but of mastery.” 

George Itzhak, who, along with Ben Napoli and Bobbie Jean Fisher, created the documentary “Cupcakes and Herring” about the culinary offerings of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, said seeing his film in a professional theater was a remarkable experience. 

“Seeing our work up there in a professional theater—that’s not something I’m going to forget anytime soon,” he said. 

The Film Studio is one of several arts programs offered at the annual Summer Arts Institute sponsored by the Department of Education. Other programs include drama, dance, visual art, photography, and vocal and instrumental music.
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