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Kelsey Grammer, Debra Granik, & More to Mentor the 2020 Youth Film Lab

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Kelsey Grammer, Debra Granik, & More to Mentor the 2020 Youth Film Lab

The Woodstock Film Festival announced today the return of its 3rd annual Summer Youth Film Lab in a new online format. This free-of-charge educational program, generously underwritten by an anonymous donor, serves Mid-Hudson area teens selected through an application process. The Lab will run July 6th - 24th.

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and in accordance with social distancing guidelines, the 2020 Lab will employ an innovative online curriculum centered on teaching students how to create their own short films using iPads loaded with state of the art filmmaking software. Each participant will learn every stage of the production process and be tasked with creating an original narrative or documentary film that explores one of the following themes: "Together & Apart", "The Best Day Ever", and "Climate Change".

"The obstacles presented to us due to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed us to think outside the box and develop this great opportunity for our students," said Meira Blaustein, Woodstock Film Festival Co-Founder and Executive Director and the Youth Film Lab's creator. "I can't wait to see what will surely be imaginative and moving films created by this year's class of promising young filmmakers."

"Any filmmaker will tell you that you don't need a fancy camera or a million dollar budget to tell a story," stated the Lab's Program Director and SUNY New Paltz digital media professor Megan Sperry. "What you really need is a good story and the motivation to share it with an audience."

The Lab will be taught by three full-time instructors, overseen by Sperry and her assistant as well as an administrator who will coordinate the program as a whole. Film Lab students will also be guided by accomplished film industry professionals and guest mentors from all corners of moviemaking. This year's Lab mentors include: actor Kelsey Grammar (CHEERS, FRASIER, HANK, BOSS), director Debra Granik (DOWN TO THE BONE, WINTER'S BONE, LEAVE NO TRACE), music supervisor Tracy McKnight (THE HUNGER GAMES, A WRINKLE IN TIME, FREE SOLO, SPACESHIP EARTH), editor Kate Sanford (THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, THE WIRE), producer Peter Saraf (THE FAREWELL, A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE), screenwriter Ron Nyswaner (PHILADELPHIA, RAY DONOVAN, HOMELAND), as well as animators Joy Buran and Noelle Melody (HUMAN KIND OF, PECAN SANDIE, POTATOES FOR PADO).

Through these one-on-one exchanges, program participants will get the rare opportunity to learn about their mentor's prolific careers while receiving skilled guidance on various aspects of the filmmaking process. Past Labs guest mentors include: Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (THE INNOCENCE FILES, MUSIC BY PRUDENCE, LIFE, ANIMATED), Academy Award-winning actor Melissa Leo (I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE, I'M DYING UP HERE, THE FIGHTER), veteran casting director Ellen Chenoweth (O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, ANALYZE THIS), award-winning cinematographer Michael Simmonds (HALLOWEEN, GOODBYE SOLO, THE LAST O.G.), award-winning editor Sabine Hoffman (THE GLORIAS, JULIET NAKED, MAGGIE'S PLAN), award-winning screenwriter Alex Smith (WALKING OUT, WINTER IN THE BLOOD, THE SLAUGHTER RULE), and more.

In its short history, the Woodstock Film Festival's Summer Youth Film Lab and the unique educational experiences it provides have made a big impact on participants, as demonstrated through this parent testimonial:

"... Making a film at her age showed our daughter just how much she could accomplish. We've never seen her so happy in her entire life. The dynamics of conceptualizing and executing a full short film in a condensed time frame, gave our daughter a significant sense of pride and achievement, and set her up with ultra-valuable skill sets to carry on into her future ... Having mentors and professionals there to share their knowledge and offer guidance was a privilege the students couldn't find anywhere else in this area. We can see how this program will show girls that this is a field for them, and we will continue to have the explosion of women in film - letting us hear their stories - written and directed by them, for generations to come. Thank you for giving her the opportunity of a lifetime. Really - thank you is not enough. You have changed a life ..." -Van & Daisy Bollé, Parents of Starla Bollé

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