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Contact: Meira Blaustein 845.679.4265 or

WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL presents Summer Film Intensive Program for area Teens

photos by Anezka Sebek (click to enlarge)  

Zach Sklar talks with students at the WFF Summer Film Intensive

Giancarlo Esposito watches dailies at WFF Summer Film Intensive

(Woodstock, NY) July 3- The Woodstock Film Festival's Summer Film Intensive Program for Teens concludes today after a week of workshops, filmmaking, learning, and fun.

The program, which was made possible thanks to a federal judiciary grant secured on behalf of the Woodstock Film Festival by Congressman Maurice Hinchey was designed for at-risk teens. A dozen students were given he opportunity to learn skills in the creative art of filmmaking and visual storytelling. Teens were selected for the program based on their diverse backgrounds in conjunction with the Center for Creative Education, which hosted the workshop in Kingston, NY.

Since its inception, the Woodstock Film Festival has been committed to youth and education as a means to positive development, conflict resolution and growth opportunity.

According to the program's head teacher, Indie Lab's Ivy Roberts, "This film immersion course looks at moving images as pathways of expression. Using their own voices, talents, and minds, this hands-on experience gives urban teens a means for expressing themselves using cutting-edge equipment and technology."

In addition to Ivy Roberts, the Summer Film Intensive Program's staff was composed of a variety of esteemed members from the filmmaking community, including Anezka Sebek, a filmmaking teacher from New York City's The New School; Peter Wetzler, a film composer and teacher; and Woodstock Film Festival's own Michael Burke. 

Guest teacher Zachary Sklar, an Academy Award nominated screenwriter (JFK), said, "Working with the young people at the Summer Filmmaking Workshop was exciting. To help first-time filmmakers learn the craft and find their voice is challenging, stimulating, and very satisfying."

Other guest teachers included Giancarlo Esposito, best known for his role as Buggin Out in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. He wowed the students on Tuesday with his lecture on acting and directing and was kind enough to pose for pictures with participating students. Tuesday morning, video engineer and WFF technical director Jeff Kantor gave the students a crash course on lighting and camera work.

At the start of the program, the teens were divided into two groups and given one simple instruction: "Create a short film of less than five minutes by the end of the week." 

Using what they'd learned in the program's various filmmaking workshops, each group of students pooled their creative talents and set about the daunting task of writing, directing, acting in, filming, and editing a short film.

By the program's conclusion, each group of creative teens had produced their very own short film. The students will have the privilege of having their films debut on the big screen during the Youth Initiative program at this year's Woodstock Film Festival (October 1-5). ).  Guest teachers and workshop staff will be on hand along with the students at that time.

"Part of the Woodstock Film Festival's directive is to educate, inspire and empower future generations of filmmakers and media artists," Meira Blaustein, Co-Founder and Executive Director of WFF said, "We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to present the Summer Filmmaking Workshop for youth in Kingston and work with the Center for Creative Education as well as with the Indie Lab Program, all of whom are as committed to education as we are.  Seeing the youth respond so enthusiastically and work so hard to create their films was tremendously rewarding and encouraging."

In addition to providing classes and internships with local schools, Woodstock Film Festival's YOUTH INITIATIVE has presented special workshops and seminars designed to stimulate and to provide resources not readily available. Each fall during the film festival, Career Day provides a rare and highly practical opportunity for students (between ages 14-20) who are interested in careers within film and media fields. The event, which was started in 2001 by NYU Industry Liaison Jeremiah Newton presents the opportunity for first-hand communication with highly respected professionals. Participants have included Academy-Award winner and nominees and a cross section of established and emerging filmmakers and industry members.

Additionally, local film production opportunities, made available through the Hudson Valley Film Commission provide learning and career opportunities in the field.


The ninth annual Woodstock Film Festival takes place October 1 - 5, 2008. The ‘fiercely independent’ event will include more than 140 films, panels, concerts, and special events that will be featured at venues in Woodstock and the neighboring towns of Rhinebeck, Kingston and Rosendale. Visit for detailed program information.

Over the years, the Woodstock Film Festival has established itself as one of the best independent film events in the country by premiering exceptional films, hosting the most talented emerging and established professionals in the movie industry, presenting A-list concerts, parties and panels, and creating innovative and stimulating programming year-round.

The Woodstock Film Festival is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to present an annual program and year-round schedule of film, music, and art-related activities that promotes artists, culture, inspired learning, and diversity. The Hudson Valley Film Commission promotes sustainable economic development by attracting and supporting film, video, and media production.

For information contact (845) 679-4265 or visit

P.O Box 1406, Woodstock, NY 12498 - (845) 679-4265 -