As video equipment became more portable and affordable in the 1980s a group of pioneering filmmakers, media activists, and educators began to put cameras in the hands of young people in ways that empowered teenagers and opened windows to often unheard perspectives on the issues of the day. Among these were Liz Anderson at Forsyth Street Satellite Academy, Educational Video Center, and Rise and Shine Productions in New York City; Appalshop in Kentucky; the Community Arts Center in Cambridge, MA; and Street Level Youth Media in Chicago. I was inspired and influenced by these pioneers as I began to facilitate video projects with my own students at Schomburg Satellite Academy in the Bronx in the late 1980s.
At Satellite Academy I established the Through Our Eyes Video and History Project as a way to integrate documentary video production into the social studies curriculum. The project breathed new life into my teaching practice and gave students the opportunity to move beyond the classroom walls to explore, critique, and comment on both history and the media in profound ways.
From 1991 to 1995 I taught at the Educational Video Center, which I particularly enjoyed because it drew a diverse group of high school students from all over New York City. While at EVC I also had the opportunity to train other teachers to incorporate media literacy and production into their work through the Summer Teachers Institute.
From 1997 to 2004 I taught media production at Bread & Roses Integrated Arts HS and Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem. A highlight of my time at Bread & Roses was accompanying a group of our students to Cuba in 2003 to show their videos at the very first Festival de Cine Pobre (Low Budget Film Festival) and to visit Television Serrana, a community video center in the Sierra Maestra Mountains.
At Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom HS in the Bronx I guided students in the creation of the on-line news show Fannie Lou TV. FLTV has become an essential part of the culture of the school as a site of community information, opinion, and dialogue. FLTV helped initiate Fannie Lou Hamer’s annual Peace Block Parties.
Andre Lugo is a student at Bronx Community College, CUNY
I attended Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School in Harlem. That is where I met Pam Sporn in the production class she taught. I always had an interest in media production but had a passion for writing. Soon after I began class I fell in love with cinema. I made a short video about a dance group I was part of called K3T. Being able to create a finished production has stayed with me into my adulthood. After high school I took 6 years off to really find myself and understand what I wanted to do in life. One of the most exciting experiences of my life was going to Cuba with my classmates. I decided to go get a higher education because I believe without education you are unable to reach your highest potential. It's really important to me to support my community so I decided that I would attend a college in The Bronx. Luckily, Bronx Community College offers a Media Technology program with a curriculum that includes courses such as Live Studio, Film History and Theory, Editing, Television Journalism, and Photography. My goal is to open a production company in The Bronx. I’m creating Freedom Production to work exclusively on stories in, about, and for The Bronx. I intend to tell our stories of struggle, triumph, and laughter, one film at a time.
- Andre Lugo