Focused on a Brighter Future

By Eden Dodge ’20, October 30, 2019
Park Scholar develops program to teach filmmaking to underserved youths.

Ithaca College student Eden Strachan ’21, a documentary studies and production major and Park Scholar, spent much of 2018 at the Shonnard Street Boys & Girls Club in Syracuse, New York, shooting footage for a film focused on the impact of the economic crisis in her hometown. While there, she noticed the children she interviewed were especially interested in her equipment.

Of course, access to expensive film and editing equipment isn’t a luxury all young people have — particularly in Syracuse, which, according to recent census data, is struggling with one of the highest poverty rates in the country. That’s why, not long after working with those children, Strachan created Filmmakers for the Future as her Park Scholar service project. Eden and her sister Elle provide cohorts of aspiring filmmakers with the knowledge and resources needed to create and produce their own film.

Strachan spent the summer in the Television Academy Foundation’s Internship Program, where she worked in the movies for television production department at Stan & Deliver Films in Santa Monica. She was one of just 50 students chosen for the program, which was established in 1959 with the goal of preserving the legacy of television while educating and inspiring those who will shape its future.

“I became a filmmaker because someone gave me the opportunity to be creative and experiment with the medium of film.” Strachan said. “I want other youth to have the opportunity to realize their dreams like I did. Lack of access should not be the reason why someone can’t succeed.”

Like so many others, Strachan was dreaming big — too big, perhaps. “I wanted to do this large initiative and have hundreds of students participating,” she said. “But [Park Scholar Program Director] Nicole Koschmann, who is my mentor, encouraged me to start small and establish the program in a community that I was familiar with.”

So Strachan returned to Shonnard Street and taught four filmmaking sessions to the members of the Boys and Girls Club. She begins each session by explaining filmmaking concepts such as storyboarding and editing, and teaching about media responsibility. She then allows students to shoot and edit their own film using an iPad. “This is intentional,” she said. “I want to show the students that you don’t need to have fancy, expensive equipment to make a film.”

“I want other youth to have the opportunity to realize their dreams like I did. Lack of access should not be the reason why someone can’t succeed.”

Eden Strachan ’21

Strachan can see the impact the classes are having on the students. “I see the students sad that our time is up for the day,” she said. “But I love hearing them talk to each other about the project they are working on, and they are using industry terminology.”

The Shonnard Street participants have finished their filmmaking, and Strachan has begun teaching other sessions at school districts in the state. And she’s not planning on resting on her laurels. “I want Filmmakers for the Future to become a no-cost, week-long summer camp program for low-income students who are aspiring filmmakers,” she said. “As my career develops more, I hope that dream can one day become a reality.”