Give Me 5 or Give Me Death!

When I was a film teacher at a high school in RI, I was amazed at the number of film programs in high schools around the state. Not only the number of them, but the high quality projects these programs were producing. With many school districts cutting funding to the arts, partly out of fear brought on by the unattainable goals the No Child Left Behind bill set (of every student hitting 100 percent proficiency by 2014), it was inspiring to see many schools holding on to what they saw as important.  Our program wasn’t just about making movies. Students learned problem-solving skills, cooperation, the importance of setting and sticking to deadlines, and oh yeah, they got to make movies — some of which are of higher quality and substance than much of the garbage Hollywood force feeds us. Maybe not refined, but moving in their rawness and honesty.

One of the ways I was able to get involved with students from other programs across the state was at the Give Me 5 Film Lab. The Lab is a one-day program, facilitated by the Rhode Island Film and Television Office, in conjunction with the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts Education Program and the Rhode Island Arts Learning Network.  There, teens between the ages of 14 and 19 from around the state work with coaches made up of filmmakers and educators to conceive of and execute a film.  For three years, I coached a group of teen filmmakers. Some had experience, others didn’t, but they all were genuinely interested in making film. The students are given some guidelines to follow, but the story is theirs to create. After a brainstorming session comes scriptwriting, then shooting and editing. Finally, a screening of all of the groups’ films. Last year, there were even professional actors who made themselves available to be cast. The Lab is not a festival, but an event where teen filmmakers come together to network with each other and challenge and expand their filmmaking skills. It’s a wonderful day that many folks, young and old, give up an entire afternoon to be a part of.


On Saturday, March 16, 2013, the fourth annual Give Me 5 Film Lab will be held at the University of Rhode Island, Providence Feinstein campus from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. The theme of this year’s Lab is “Make a Minute Movie” Challenge. The day will begin with instructions about the film challenge.  Then teams will make their 1-minute films with the guidance of a coach, and screen and discuss their work with film professionals. Work produced at the Lab will be eligible for broadcast on RI PBS’ Teenage Critic.

Also, new to this year’s Lab is an opportunity for the more experienced Give Me 5ers to become part of the documentary team. This team will document the Film Lab and the resulting film will be shown at the Give Me 5 Teen Film Festival in May.

As always, the Lab is free, but students need to register with the sponsorship of a teacher from their school or a community media program director. There is also a release form that needs to be completed. Enrollment is on a first come first serve basis, though there is a 10 student per school limit.  The deadline to sign up for the lab is Friday, March 8.

This kind of event is exactly what’s right about arts education in RI. People come from as far as Westerly and Woonsocket (the Westerly folks have to pack a lunch for the drive up to Providence) and from many different economic backgrounds and cultures to work together for one goal.

For information, contact Sherilyn Brown at 222-6994 or