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The Baltimore Youth Film Arts Program offers Baltimore City residents ages 16 to 29 the opportunity to learn
camera skills, refine storytelling techniques, and create films and photographs to be shared at public screenings
and exhibits, and on the program website.  Participants are paid stipends for their contributions
and receive certificates for successful completion.

    Our mission is to build an online archive of Baltimore voices; a representation of our city, historical and current, real and imagined.  Be part of the project.  We want to hear from you!

                  The Baltimore Youth Film Arts Program is made possible by the support of the Johns Hopkins Film and Media Studies Program and a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


A very open environment, encouraging.

I love the variety of ages.

Fall 2018

Orientation for fall workshops: Thursday, September 6, 5-6, JHU-MICA Film Center, Rm. 216 (map)

Open to Ages 16-29
Saturdays, September 15-October 27, 9-1, Creative Alliance, 3134 Eastern Ave (map) 

In this journalism workshop, fellows will get as close as possible to the world and people around them, while discovering the city of Baltimore on foot.  Using the nearly obsolete but unobtrusive tool of the disposable camera, and the citizen journalist's weapon of the cellphone camera, they’ll frame and capture what they see.  Their photographs--taken in churches, on playgrounds, at public events embracing both art and politics--will be guided by the fundamental rules of journalism: Who, What, When, Where, and most importantly, WHY.  These investigations will be pursued through "deep captions," short features of 3 to 5 paragraphs per photo with each student working on multiple images and multiple stories over the course of the workshop.  In this era of "fake news,” the workshop will labor for accuracy in interviews and research.  If a fact or detail about an image cannot be proven to be true, it will not be published.  Fellows will sharpen observation, communication, and critical-thinking skills.  Their captioned photographs will be collected in a photo book, and will appear on the program website and at a public exhibition.  Fellows are not required to own smartphones to participate.  Limited to 12 student fellows.  

For nearly 40 years, Rafael Alvarez has been writing about Baltimore while taking thousands of pictures of his hometown with disposable cameras.  A former City Desk reporter for The Baltimore Sun, Alvarez wrote for the HBO drama The Wire, and has published ten books. Educated in Catholic schools, he is a lifelong resident of Baltimore. 

Malkah Bell is a recent graduate of Morgan State University's SWAN (Screenwriting & Animation) program, receiving her BFA in television and media writing.  Since childhood she has had a love for writing and uses film as a her canvas to tell moving stories.


Open to Ages 16-29
Saturdays, September 15-October 27, 9-1, The Door, 219 N. Chester Street, Baltimore 21231 (map)

In this production workshop student fellows will contribute to a BYFA documentary web series focusing on Baltimore’s East Side; the streets, the music, the businesses, and the personalities.  They’ll work together with instructors to identify and pursue the stories they find most meaningful, and collaborate as professional crew to shoot and edit four short episodes.  They'll build on a series created in a prior workshop, but all the content will be new, reflecting their unique vision and interests.  (The original four episodes will be released on YouTube starting in September.)  Fellows will learn interview techniques and the basics of digital video production, both practical—camera operation, audio recording, editing on Adobe Premiere—and aesthetic—visual and sound composition, narrative design.  These new episodes will also be shared on YouTube, as well as at a public screening and on the BYFA program website.  Limited to 12 student fellows.

Jim Mahjoubian, Video Production Coordinator for the Baltimore City Public Schools, believes any young person with an interest in film should be given an opportunity to explore and find their voice. In fifteen years of production and education he's helped many former students move into the industry with passion and integrity.

Jamal Evans teaches in the Interactive Media Production program at Edmondson-Westside High School.  For over fifteen years, he has inspired students to enter the world of media production.  He also has a passion for social media and does freelance photography and video throughout the Baltimore region and beyond. 

Darian Jones is currently working towards his associate's degree in Digital Media Production at the Community College of Baltimore County.  He is interested in documenting unique and authentic stories, and he hopes to give back by teaching others.


Open to Ages 16-29
Saturdays, September 29-October 27, 9-1, and Saturday, December 1, 2-6, Harambee Center, 1622 N. Carey St. 21217 (map) and on location

In this photography and public art workshop, student fellows will contribute to an international group action that posts large portraits in public spaces.  The international organization's website notes: "Inspired by JR’s large-format street 'pastings,' INSIDE OUT gives everyone the opportunity to share their portrait and make a statement for what they stand for.  It is a global platform for people to share their untold stories and transform messages of personal identity into works of public art." (Sample group action pastings.)  BYFA's theme will be B Seen B Heard, and will include a B Seen B Heard website featuring portraits of people of all ages with brief personal statements on any Baltimore subject that compels them.  Fellows will work with instructors to gather portraits and statements, with field trips to different Baltimore neighborhoods to encourage participation across the city.  The portraits will be exhibited at the BYFA fall screening on November 10 and at a Harambee Center exhibition on December 1, as well as on the B Seen B Heard website.  Then in spring of 2019, a community event will be held to paste full size posters of the portraits on exterior walls at the Harambee Center.  The posters will remain indefinitely as public art.  Fellows will learn the basics of portrait photography, including camera operation, lighting, and composition; and participate in printing, mounting, and hanging the Harambee Center exhibition.  Each fellow will keep a journal of their experience in the project, and they'll be encouraged to take more free-form portraits between workshop meetings.  These will be shared at the BYFA screening and on the program website, accompanied by fellow-artists' statements.  Limited to 12 student fellows.

Chrissy Fitchett, a graduate of MICA, is a practicing photographer and Associate Director for Baltimore Youth Film Arts.  Her work examines family structure, generational knowledge, and issues of political and social marginalization, such as forced migration and gender inequity.

Essence Smith is Executive Director at the Harambee Center.  She has a passion for empowering today’s youth through education and leadership development.  Essence believes you should be the change you want to see.

Ayomide Olusina is a Georgia native and an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University.  She is studying natural science and Spanish and does amateur filmmaking on the side. 

Somer Greer is a poet and photographer who, since moving from Florida, is happy to call Baltimore home. He teaches writing at Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University, and pursues photography all over the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. He is thrilled to help make Baltimore stronger through art.

Zoraida  Díaz, a Colombian-born photojournalist, covered some of the most impactful Latin American stories of the 80s and 90s for Reuters.  Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Libération, O Globo, The  Guardian, Dagens Nyheter, Clarín, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore.


Open to Ages 16-29
Saturdays, September 15-October 27, 10-2, Morgan State University, Holmes Hall (map)

In this storytelling and filmmaking workshop, student fellows will explore a selection of African American folktales, using them as inspiration for their own, original, filmed narratives.  The tales, which have both African and European sources, have evolved through generations of New World storytellers, shared orally and assuming written form in the work of Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, and others.  The stories feature tricksters and dupes, magical instruments, talking animals, and humans who can fly.  They celebrate the subversive, the creative, the defiant, the sacred.  They run the gamut from comic to tragic to philosophical.  Fellows will consider what our storyteller-ancestors can tell us about our lives and ourselves; about storytelling as individual identity and shared culture; about surviving through art.  And they’ll add their own voices to the rich weave of a living tradition.  They’ll identify characters and stories that feel relevant and reimagine them, devising contemporary narratives for three short, collaborative films.  They’ll experiment with both live action and animation, and explore visual styles from gritty to whimsical.  All fellows will take part in writing, storyboarding, shooting, and editing.  Their films will be shared at a public screening and on the program website.  Limited to 12 student fellows.

Ancestral Wisdom is a co-production of Baltimore Youth Film Arts and Morgan State University.

Keith Mehlinger is Director of the Digital Media Center and Coordinator of the Screenwriting and Animation program (SWAN) at Morgan State University.  A producer/writer/director, he produced episodes of the syndicated series, Story of a People, and recently completed a short documentary about parents of sons lost to street violence for the Morgan multimedia project, Mother's Lament.

David Lee Roberts Jr., an award-winning television producer and documentary filmmaker, is Adjunct Professor in the Screenwriting and Animation (SWAN) program at Morgan State University.  Television credits include Metro Focus, and film credits include the upcoming features Covenant of Peace, about the Washington, D.C. juvenile justice system, and Charm City, about Baltimore community reform and engagement.

Kyle Yearwood is an assistant in Morgan State University’s Screenwriting and Animation program, with proficiency in cinematography, editing, photography, special effects, and animation.  He has worked as a videographer for the Baltimore MTA, interned for HBO’s Show Me a Hero, and currently freelances in visual production.


Open to Ages 16-29
Saturdays, September 15-October 27, 9-1, JHU-MICA Film Center (map)

In this experimental photography workshop, student fellows will capture and piece together images of Baltimore, creating “quilts” that reflect their experiences and personal visions.  Using digital cameras, disposable cameras, and cellphones, and shooting in both black and white and color, they’ll assemble personal picture diaries of people, places, and objects.  They’ll then draw from these collections to create individual and group “quilts,” grids of varying dimensions and degrees of complexity.  They’ll consider composition of the individual image, the juxtaposition of images, and the effect of multiple images "stitched" together into a large, communal assemblage.  They’ll experiment with street and studio photography, working in natural and artificial light.  Fellows will be encouraged to build up their picture diaries on their own between workshop meetings.  And in addition to their visual diary, each fellow will keep a journal of their experiences working both alone and collaboratively.  They’ll discuss their creative processes as a group, and learn to productively critique each other’s aesthetic choices.  Their work will be shared at a public exhibition and on the program website.  A large, collaborative project will be displayed as well as individual pieces.  Limited to 12 student fellows.

Anthony McKissic is a photojournalist and mixed media artist from Washington D.C.  He also teaches photography in the Baltimore City Public Schools.

Jessica Pettiford is a graduate of the Screenwriting and Animation (SWAN) program at Morgan State University. She hopes to improve her own skills in photography while working with others and helping them learn something new.


Open to Ages 16-29
Saturdays, September 15-October 27, 1:30-5:30, JHU-MICA Film Center (map)

In this poetry writing and animation workshop, fellows will explore the intersection of literary and film arts through the hybrid form of the “motionpoem.”  They’ll read poetry by Lucille Clifton and Yusef Komunyakaa, among others, closely examining literary techniques like imagery, figurative language, and narrative, then write poems of their own using those devices. They’ll draw from their own lives, focusing on their literal and imaginative “origins,” considering place and family, and developing a self-mythology.  As they create poetry about the forces and experiences that shape their identities, they’ll also be exploring the potential of collage and hand-drawn animation to give their work new dimension and bring their poems to life.  They’ll take inspiration from the online archive Motionpoems (link), brainstorming, storyboarding, shooting, and creating audio to take their poems from words to moving images to finished animated films. They'll learn how to use text overlay, record a voice-over, and incorporate music and sound effects, highlighting verbal and sonic elements in their films. Their finished projects will be shared at a public screening and on the program website. Limited to 12 student fellows.

Dora Malech is an assistant professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and the author of three books of poetry, most recently Stet (Princeton University Press, 2018). She works with Writers in Baltimore Schools and is passionate about writing, visual art, collaboration, and community.

Yiran (Eva) Guo is an freelance illustrator and animator originally from the plains of northern China. She is a graduate of the MFA program in Illustration Practice at Maryland Institute College of Art, and in her time in the States, has created award-winning window displays, GIFs, animations, and illustrations. 

Alfonzer Harvin has a B.A in Computer Animation from Morgan State University and is skilled in all phases of production.  He believes knowledge is power.  


Open to Ages 16-29
Saturdays, September 15-October 27, 9-1, Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus, Brody 4040 (map)

In this fiction filmmaking workshop, student fellows will explore the power of the shot to express complex ideas, human relationships, and conflict on multiple levels: characters in conflict not only with each other, but with the environment, with institutions, and within themselves.  They’ll be guided by Francis Ford Coppola’s principle that “a shot can be a word, but it's better when it's a sentence,” taking advantage of what the real world offers even as they recompose that world through a viewfinder, and revise first inspirations into layered, evocative moving images. Fellows will begin with their own experiences and immediate environments, but be free to fictionalize as best serves their material.  Each fellow will create one or more individual filmed vignettes, 90 seconds or less, perhaps comprising a single shot, perhaps including one or two cuts.  And together the group will create a short, collaborative film, 4-5 minutes.  Individual and group projects will emphasize the visual, and feature little or no dialogue or voice over.  Sound from the natural world, as well as music and sound effects, may be included.  Fellows will practice close observation and critical thinking; and be introduced to script writing and storyboarding, the basics of video and audio recording, and editing in Adobe Premiere.  Individual and collaborative films will be shared at a public screening and on the program website.  Limited to 12 student fellows.

Taelor Clay, a Morgan State University graduate, is an independent film producer and screenwriter, largely focused on stories that address and attempt to heal infighting in struggling communities.  She is Program Coordinator for Baltimore Youth Film Arts.

Jimmy Powell, Jr., an alumnus of the Maryland Institute College of Art, is a freelance videographer and editor.  His clients include the NAACP, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, and the University of Maryland Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Olugbenga Osikomaiya, a Morgan State University graduate, is a freelance cinematographer and photographer who focuses on creating compelling images that also tell a story.