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Lessons for Filmmaking Teens  by Marisa Taylor 

With the advent of Facebook, MySpace and YouTube, the so-called millennial generation is more adept than ever at sharing the details of their daily lives online.
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But there may now be demand to do so in a more artistic way. Manhattan Edit Workshop, a small New York film school, has started a $2,000 class called “From You to YouTube: Filmmaking, Evolved.” In two two-week sessions, Mac-friendly 12- to 18-year-olds will learn the basics of shooting and editing. The goal is to learn how to compress the final product down to a Web-friendly size, according to Josh Apter, the school’s owner.

The class’s emphasis is on storytelling and filmmaking, not just uploading the home-video footage that is often found on YouTube, he said, but “‘From You to Vimeo’ didn’t quite have the same ring to it.”

The first week will focus on story structure, camera technique and pre-production, then students will spend several days gathering footage. The entire second week, Mr. Apter says, will be focused on post-production and editing, and then he’ll help the kids get their films uploaded by the close of the course. He is still working out what kinds of cameras students will use but says he’s a fan of the Canon HFS100 and the Canon VIXIA HV30.

Mr. Apter was inspired to start the school in 2001 after his first year of film school, whose thoughtful discussions on stories, writing and editing were “contrary to all my expectations that it would be so cutthroat,” he said.

But the idea of creating a course for teens dawned on him after he met a talented 14-year-old in one of his six-week intensive editing classes, which usually just attracts adults. Mr. Apter had interviewed the teen before the class began to make sure that he was mature enough to click with the other students, many of whom were in their 40s and 50s. But he turned out to be “one of the most interesting students we’d ever had,” Mr. Apter says. “He was more together than I was when I was 20…but don’t tell anyone that.”

So far, he says the first of the two courses is nearly full. He cites children’s early exposure to video and the Internet for its popularity. “They’re understanding images so early, because they are so bombarded with them,” he said. “Our world is so visual now.”