Since September, The Grand Cinema's film instructor Jason Ganwich has headed to Lincoln High School, sometimes four days a week, to work with the drama students there. We embarked on a brave experiment with drama teacher Lindsey Larson and her students: we asked them to partner with us and make four short films in order to present them in a festival in November.

Education programs grow with The Grand

We’ve never done this before. Although we’ve worked with youth over the summers in film camp where they have five days (nearly 6 hours a day) to complete a short film, we’ve never done it as an after school program.

We realized quickly that there are a lot of unique challenges when working with students over limited hours, in an environment where we can’t control everything. But there have also been incredible discoveries, moments of learning with our students, and some inspiring triumphs.

Our students jumped into the challenge - developing original stories, identifying the kinds of roles they would each have in front and behind the camera.

Lincoln Film Club with Sean Patrick Burke

They worked with Jason to develop the basics of camera operation, script development, lighting, blocking, editing, and many other skills. They found creative ways to tell their stories in the face of hundreds of little challenges from weather, the lack of extras, classmates with illnesses or conflicting schedules, to limited hours to be able to work together. Three local filmmakers, Melinda Raebyne, Sean Patrick Burke, and Will Good, all came to support the students.

Now, just days before their films premiere, they’re scrambling to complete shooting, editing, and all the elements of post-production. These films will make you smile, make you think, perhaps confuse you, and will definitely inspire you.

Lincoln Film Club with Jess Dela Merced

The Future of Filmmaking

Seeing a young person first grasp and then embrace their creative abilities is truly my favorite thing. For me, it is the moment in intellectual development that defines humanity. When you realize that you can be creative, you realize two intertwined challenges: that you have a story to tell and that the only way you can tell it is through finding ways to work with others.

Lincoln Film Fest poster

This has been a stunningly difficult week and in spending more time with youth than I ever have in my adult life, I recognized a real and utter responsibility to uplift, protect, and celebrate the next generations. 

Our community cannot survive without all of us recognizing that we must be here for each other and for our children.

Maybe this sounds a little heavy handed when talking about a school project. But when we’ve been in the classroom, working with the students, seeing them fight against their stress and fears and succeed in crafting their visions, my response barely captures how much it has inspired me.

These past few months have been the definition of an adventure. We all went through highs and lows together, we all learned something, sometimes many things, every day. And in the end, we have fresh new artistic visions to share with the world. 

See, it’s a pretty big deal, right?

Come to the first Lincoln Film Festival

I am so inspired to be a part of these next steps for The Grand Cinema and delighted that we could do this work in partnership with Lincoln High School. We can’t wait to find ways to share the art and skill of storytelling (collaboratively through digital media) with more and more of our neighboring students.

Thank you all for being a part of our community and supporting youth expression, leadership, collaboration, and storytelling. Please join us this Thursday, Friday, or Saturday for the first Lincoln Film Festival.

You have three opportunities to enjoy the festival:

- November 17, 7 p.m. at The Grand Cinema, 606 S Fawcett Ave, Tacoma 

- November 18 & November 19, 7 p.m. at the Lincoln High School Auditorium, 701 S 37th St, Tacoma (tickets will be available at the door).

At each screening, enjoy Q&As with our filmmakers and awards presentations. The Audience Choice award will be announced November 19.

Please come and enjoy these films and support our emerging filmmakers - they have worked really hard to bring their stories to life.

And if you have a moment, please share with your communities about this festival; all proceeds from the festival go back to supporting educational opportunities for these and other students.

We’ll see you at the festival!

The Lincoln Film Festival is presented by The Grand Cinema, the Lincoln Neighborhood Revitalization Project, and the City of Tacoma. 

The mission of The Grand Cinema's education outreach is to grow and nurture the agency, critical thinking, technical skills, and expression of filmmakers, with a guiding focus to serve young, underserved, emerging artists. 

Special thanks to Jason Ganwich, Lindsey Larson, Lynn Eisenhauer, Will Good, Melinda Raebyne, Sean Patrick Burke, James Blanchard, Faith Stevens, Bamford Foundation, Ben B. Cheney Foundation, Forest Foundation, and Sequoia Foundation.