Viewfinder: Help Wanted: Video Volunteers

I have a suggestion for those of you who have the following qualities:

  • decent video producer.
  • desire to “give back” to the community.
  • love young people.

If you haven’t already guessed, I am suggesting that you volunteer to help teach kids videography.

Our schools are loaded with potential. The videos produced by young people that I see (by way of the annual Videomaker/Panasonic Contest) is marvelous. The work of younger videographers is extremely creative and full of ideas, but they usually lack the fine technical details that come after years of shooting and editing video.

It is important for young people to express themselves, and video is a great tool for doing so. They can express their opinions to each other, to their parents or to the community at large by way of the public access cable channel. This form of expression can keep some kids out of trouble. It can also help kids that have been in trouble to warn their younger classmates about the dangers of drugs, gangs, STDs and crime. Self-expression is one of the unfulfilled fundamental emotional needs that kids have during their years of growing up. Often they feel as though “no one understands them.” Video programs can provide a wonderful “relief valve” for kids in need of an outlet.

There is another group of people that will benefit from your volunteering, the teachers. I can’t tell you how many teachers I have met at one of our Videomaker Expos, or heard from via e-mail me or letter, conveying sheer panic. Most schools assign “video teachers” for the “video classes” with little or no video experience. Often, the only reason is that these teachers are good with computers, and some higher-ups in the school’s administration assume that qualifies them to teach video production. Video is an unusual craft. It is part technical, but also part artistic (both a left brain and a right brain activity). Video is challenging to teach, even for people with years of training. It is no wonder that so many teachers call me in a panic, ordering every back issue, every video tape and every book that we have in stock. These newly-appointed video teachers regularly come to our Videomaker Workshops and Expos because they need to learn videography, and teach it in a hurry.

Most of our readers have an abundance of skills and abilities that the video classes of your local school need, such as helping instructors to teach video production skills. You don’t need to bring any of your own gear, but you could consider bringing some of your older gear, if you were so inspired. The most valuable thing that you can provide to your local school is your video “know-how” and experience.

Panasonic sponsors a program called the Kid Witness News that focuses on inner-city schools. Panasonic donates equipment to many schools around the nation for this program, and it is a smashing success. However, there is one thing that these schools cannot get enough of—adult involvement—especially parental involvement.

I really can’t stress enough how important it is for each of you to contact your local junior high or high school to ask if there is a class that teaches video production, and ask for the teacher’s name. Contact that teacher and ask what you can do, even if it is just a hour a week for a few weeks, to help teach our young people how to express themselves with video. It is a great investment in our future.

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