“Youth Digital Media, 21st Century Mastery, Culture and Society”
In 1997, a non-profit agency in the State’s capital, the Tower of Youth, was organized to provide a hub for teen youth training, studio community, and state of the art movie exhibitions within the Sacramento Sierra 5-county region whose magnets consisted of 2 major, annual digital media festivals. The first, held in the Spring, the Annual Teen Digital Reel Showcase & Awards assembled 40 (plus) regional high school media educators and their classes to produce short works in 9 content categories, to compete for state-of-the-art software and hardware awards to build capacity in the region and set the bar for creative artistry and tool mastery. Two-and-a-half million dollars in awards were distributed in the first 17 annual events (1997 – 2013). The same years (1997 – 2016), the Annual North American All Youth Film & Education Day was begun inviting the best movies made by teens from across the US and Canada, works longer than 3 minutes in length, to exhibit their award winning productions, both festivals were webcast live in real time as outreach and public breakthrough.
These astounding original and unprecedented productions were created by the youth who pioneered the first 20 years of being taught and had access to the exploding digital technology available in our public and private high schools. The selected works, about 80 per year from the combined showcase events, were juried by professional and youth peers and each Festival hosted and videotaped the most significant movie industry speakers in the communication arts industry to share their visions and maps for youth to pursue careers in media and its massive studio associated skills world, to complement their most complex and breathtaking socially produced art form – movies.
From 1997 to 2016, our archive of the absolute best youth productions was gathered locally and from across the US and Canada, shown and shared by live TV broadcast and virtual on-line webcast, over the 2 decades, as the digital formats evolved from tape to on-line content. The quality, technically and story wise, is peerless from this generation spanning the birth of this technology in our youth’s hands and embracing the spectrum of stories. These are compelling in their self-revelation, guilless, imaginative, humorousness, gravity and social significance. Youth are drawn to the most controversial issues in our lives – suicide, violence, gender identity, love, race, culture, substance abuse, death, and the dramas that are the sea in which they swim. Their non-commercial works are utterly authentic and diametrically different from commercial production spectacles. These works, the cross section of messaging and concerns from this first generation of teens from the 21st Century, are a unique national treasure.
It is our intention to find the ideal national exhibition and relevant institutional home for this treasure and to raise the money necessary to catalogue and package this great asset to meet the needs of the venue, both for its in-house showing and design, and its long term ‘virtual’ use as the most searchable and serious learning and expository library. Thus, partitioning the thousand plus works by quality, pre production, production and postproduction features, content foci, etc., the donation that we pose to make will be structured to maximize its material, educational and entertainment values.
Despite the fact that the majority of the library is edited and mixed from its TOY showcase screening, there is considerable thought and restructuring that is essential that must be guided by what will make the package an ideal asset. Again, apart from the youth movies, there is a series of over 2 dozen of the most powerful professional media field leader visionary presentations that have their own virtue and timeless power guiding youth toward career futures in the communication arts industry.
We must find a national home to match this national treasure!
William Bronston, MD
President and CEO