How 6 Films in 3 Months Captured My Heart

Filming Esperanza on location


Editing Youth With Attitude

In the Fall of 2012, I was approached by Mark Schwartz and Tony LoRe, founder of the Urban Oasis Film Academy and Executive Director of Youth Mentoring Connection, respectively, about taking over the 5-year-old film program serving youth from all corners of Los Angeles. In 2007, a new partnership emerged after nine years of a successful worksite mentoring program between HBO and Youth Mentoring Connection (YMC), and the Urban Oasis Film Academy was born under the umbrella of YMC’s other mentoring programs. In 2013, it was in need of someone who could not only teach the sessions, but also compile the many successes of the program and present it to the world.

Making fake blood for The Last Man on Earth

I had no idea going into it on January 15, 2013 what an amazing ride it would be. In particular it was a joy to join the YMC family; the organization has such a beautiful and loving relationship with its mentees, and cares deeply about respectful communication and developing supportive mentoring relationships. I was supported by three amazing staff members at YMC, Derrion Wyatt, Creon Dotson, and Abraham Valencia, whose hard work and dedication to getting youth safely to and from Film Academy every session were invaluable and unparalleled.

Together, we explored media messaging, framing, storyboarding and storytelling (often using the Global Action Project curriculum, available for free online). Youth came up with their own topics, ideas, stories, and groups, and we met every Tuesday evening for pre-production (story development), then every Sunday for long days of production (filming) and post-production (editing).

Recording original music for Sound Waves

Six beautiful films were created, each of them 3 minutes long — a record number of films for one Film Academy session. Two of them, Esperanza and LOVE, were selected Top Ten Winners at the 2013 Bresee Youth Film Festival on Social Justice. The youth, and their stories, captured my heart this spring, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next! Check them out below and read more at


The Last Man on Earth

The last man left on Earth hears a knock at the door…

Youth With Attitude

“The music industry has changed. Good music is no longer advertised; it’s kept underground. While the media puts out what they want, people listen along, forgetting what good music really is. Horrible propaganda infests the streets, blinding us from the raw talent that’s around us.”


After losing her mother, Esperanza is pressured by her remaining family to join a gang. She is forced to make some difficult decisions about what to do next.

TOP TEN WINNER – Bresee Youth Film Festival on Social Justice 2013

Sound Waves

Music is life. Four young people explore the importance of music in their lives.


A 35-year sentence for Charlie proves deadly for all those in his wake.


What is Love? A Documentary.

TOP TEN WINNER – Bresee Youth Film Festival on Social Justice 2013



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