7 Summer Film Programs for High School Students

7 Summer Film Programs for High School Students

Summer Opportunities in Filmmaking for High School Students

Introduction – Summer Programs that Focus on Film Production

The world of film and digital media provide exciting and interesting opportunities. Filmmaking combines creativity, analytical thinking, and technical skills. Film also provides a chance for people to tell stories in a visual manner. As digital video has become more accessible, there have been more opportunities to explore filmmaking and production. High school students may be interested learning about the various aspects that go into planning, developing, creating, and refining professional film projects. To address this interest, there has been an increase in the number of summer film programs that for pre-college students.

This article is intended to provide information about some of the summer filmmaking programs and camps that are offered for high school students. 


Learning about Film through a Summer Program

High school summer film campThere are many aspects involved with filmmaking. In general, these can be broken down into the following phases: pre-production, production, and post-production. However, there are many steps within each of these areas. For example, in the pre-production phase, some of the components that are involved include working with a script, budgeting, putting together a production crew, utilizing a storyboard, finding locations, casting, organizing documents and permits, preparing equipment, and more.

Some film summer camps focus on a segment of the filmmaking process, while others provide a broad introduction to the whole process. For example, there are some summer programs that focus on screenwriting at an in-depth level, whereas others are designed to enable students to get a feel for many of the elements in the different phases of film production. An important consideration for high school students who are exploring summer film opportunities involves determining whether a program has a specific focus on a particular aspect of filmmaking or whether it provides broad-based experiences involved with film production.


Pre-College Summer Film Programs

Film and video production summer program for high school studentsThere are a variety of summer film programs that are held at colleges and universities. These pre-college summer film programs add another dimension to a summer opportunity because they can provide high school students with a preview of the college environment. In addition to learning about film, pre-college summer programs often enable students to gain experience with learning on a university campus, interacting with faculty and staff members, utilizing college-level resources, and/or getting a feel for life in a college setting

There has been an increasing number of colleges offering summer opportunities in the area of film. These pre-college programs, which are often held on campuses, can serve to help prepare students for the transition out of high school and into a college setting.  

As a note, an increasing number of colleges have film schools and programs of study for undergraduate and graduate students. Although only some of these colleges offer a pre-college summer opportunity, it can be helpful to begin exploring college-level programs. A list of many of the colleges and universities that offer film programs can be viewed on the following page: college with film schools.


Exploring Summer Filmmaking Programs

Summer filmmaking camp for high school studentsThe following information in this article provides examples of summer film programs for high school students. This list of film programs in this article are not meant to be comprehensive or exhaustive. The remaining information in the article is intended to provide examples of the types of summer filmmaking programs that have been developed to help high school students learn about the field.

Also, it is important to note that participating in a summer program is not required to pursue a college major or career in film. Students can also consider other ways to gain experience with film, and it is recommended that they speak with someone at their school (e.g., a school counselor) to discuss potential ideas.

Summer Film Program Opportunities for High School Students

University of Georgia Summer Film Camps

UGA offers several summer film-based camps for high school students and junior high students. These include a basic level introductory film program, an intermediate level film program, and an advanced level film intensive. The summer camps focus on digital filmmaking. They are offered in different sessions, which can provide students with options to find the summer opportunity that is the right fit. As a note, there is also a screenwriting summer intensive that is offered by the university.

High school student at a filmmaking summer programThe week-long summer film camps are designed to provide students with experiential opportunities to enhance their knowledge of different components of the filmmaking process. Students learn about components of film, such as using proper camera angles, developing a storyboard, working with a script, producing scenes, and much more.

The skills that are developed progressively increase in complexity with the different levels of the summer camps (basic, intermediate, advanced). One of the features of the summer camps involves students working together to create a film. This enables students to apply their learning. They also have the chance to keep their film work after the program has concluded.

There is a residential and commuter option for the summer camps. There is some financial aid available through an application process.

Participants: Basic Film: students between the ages of eleven and fifteen; Intermediate Film: students between the ages of fourteen and seventeen; Advanced Film: students between the ages of fourteen and seventeen.

Learn more: UGA Summer Film Camps


Chapman University Summer Film Program

The College of Film and Media Arts at the university offers a summer program for upper grade-level high school students with an interest in learning about filmmaking. The program provides students with an intensive experience that focuses on the phases involved with creating a film. The summer program enables high school students to get a preview of what it would be like to study filmmaking at the college level.

Filmmaking summer program for high school studentsThe two-week summer program provides high school students with a chance to hear from guest speakers, analyze movies, and create films. The program enables participants to learn about a broad range of topics that pertain to the process of filmmaking. As the program progresses, students work collaboratively to create short films using the ideas, information, and skills that are covered in the program. One of the features of this program involves screening student-developed films for families towards the end of the experience.

The summer program allows high school students to stay on the campus during the program and get a glimpse of life in a college setting. There is an application process. There are some scholarships offered based on individual circumstances. 

Participants: High school students who will be going into grade eleven or twelve.

Learn More: Chapman Summer Film Program


University of North Carolina School of the Arts Summer Filmmaking Program

The UNCSA summer film program provides high school students with the chance to learn about a wide variety of aspects involved with making movies. The program emphasizes the entire filmmaking process, which includes developing, producing, and editing films. Students can interact with and learn from instructors affiliated with the university as well as teaching assistants with experience in film production.

Video and film production summer program for high schoolersThe five-week summer intensive program enables students to gain experience with a broad range of components involved with making a film. For example, participants learn about directing, using technical skills for camera angles, working with scripts, producing activities, editing video, and more. Students also have the opportunity to utilize technological resources and materials at the university, which enhances the experience. Through the program, students collaborate to make films, view videos, and critically analyze movies. 

The program has two tracks that are based on prior experience with film. One of the tracks has been designed for students with no or little previous experience with film. The other has been developed for those who have already gained formal experience in filmmaking while they have been in high school.

The summer program has a residential component that gives students a chance to experience life at UNCSA. There is an application for the program.

Participants: High school students who will be going into the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grades as well as recent high school graduates.

Learn more: Summer Film Production at UNCSA


UCLA Film and Television Summer Program

The UCLA summer film program has been designed to enable high school students to gain experience with a broad range of aspects involved with creating and producing films. Through the program, students engage in a variety of experiential activities and learning exercises to enhance their knowledge and develop their skills in the phases of filmmaking. Students also have a chance to get a preview of what it is like to study film in a university setting.

Filmmaking summer program for high school studentsThis two-week-long program allows students to collaborate, learn from instructors, and meet faculty members in the School of Theatre, Film, and Television. Participants receive guidance in areas of film such as cinematography, pre-production, working with actors, directing, and more. Participants also learn how to use advanced equipment at the university for activities, including filming and editing. Additionally, the program takes place in Los Angeles, which provides the opportunity to explore a filmmaking studio.

The UCLA pre-college summer program gives students a chance to reside on the campus and get a feel for life at a university. There are typically multiple sessions offered during the summer. There may be summer financial aid available, particularly for in-state students.

Participants: High school students who are currently in their sophomore, junior, or senior year.

Learn More: UCLA Summer Filmmaking Program


Wake Forest University Summer Documentary Filmmaking Program

Wake Forest offers a unique summer program that focuses on sharing real stories through film. The program exposes students to the process and practices involved with making documentaries. 

Video camera for a film studies program on a college campusDuring the week-long summer program, students learn about producing, directing, and making films through the lens of a documentarian. As a part of the program, students engage in meaningful discussions about the significance of real film footage and effective ways to make films. Participants gain a wide variety of experiences, such as hearing from professionals in the film industry, analyzing films that tell real stories, visiting sites that exhibit documentary films, and receiving guidance from an instructor. Students also have the opportunity to work cooperatively with other participants to apply learning in a filmmaking project.

The summer program provides students with the chance to reside on the campus or to commute. There is an application process for the program and some financial aid may available based on the need. 

Participants: High school students who are going into the tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade or who recently graduated.

Learn more: WF Summer Documentary Filmmaking Program


Emerson College Summer Film Programs

Emerson offers two interesting summer programs for high school students that focus on film, video, and movie making. There is a digital film summer program and a 16-millimeter film program. Both programs provide experiential learning opportunities that can give students a feel for what it is like to be a filmmaker.

The digital film program is a five-week immersion experience that provides students with the opportunity to learn about a variety of aspects involved with making, producing, directing, and editing films. This includes using a camera effectively and developing scenes. As a part of the program, students have a chance to collaborate with peers, receive guidance from an instructor, and engage in short film projects to develop their skills.

Pre-college 16mm film summer program for high school studentsThe 16mm film program allows high school students to learn about, discuss, and build skills in a classic way of making movies. Participants have the chance to gain experience with the filmmaking craft and develop a better understanding involved with a traditional method of creating films. During the program, students have a chance to apply their learning by creating a short film.

In addition to learning about film, the programs give students a chance to learn in a higher education setting and spend time on a campus. Students also have the opportunity to utilize resources and facilities at the college. The program has a residential and commuter option. There is an application to participate in the program.

Participants: The digital program is intended to be for students in their sophomore, junior, or senior year. The 16mm program is designed for high schoolers who will be going into their junior or senior year after the summer.

Learn more: Digital Filmmaking Program16-millimeter Program


Depaul University Film, Animation, and Game Design Summer Program

Depaul, in Chicago, offers a compelling summer program that provides high school students with the opportunity to explore film, television, or game development. The program has been designed to have different tracks that can address the interests of participants. The topics that are covered in the tracks are based on the entertainment industry, which includes film and television.

Through the week-long program, students have a chance to work with university instructors and utilize technological resources on the campus. The five pathways of the program include film and television, screenwriting, video game design, and two separate animation tracks. The programs emphasize experiential learning, collaborating with peers, and exploring topics of interest. 

In the film and television program, high school students have a chance to enhance their knowledge and skills in important aspects of filmmaking. Participants have a chance to work cooperatively with peers to apply what they are learning by actually making short films. Through the short film projects, students gain experience in multiple areas of filmmaking, including camera angles, production, scene development and more. Participants also have a chance to learn about and utilize industry-based technology to edit the videos that they have developed.

The program is designed to be commuter-based. Participating students have a chance to gain experience learning on a college campus during each day of the program. 

Participants: High school students who have finished at least their freshman year by the start of the program.

Learn more: Depaul Filmmaking, Animation Development, and Game Design Summer Program

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Mike Uretsky

Mike has worked in the field of education as a teacher, school counselor, program coordinator, and consultant. As an educator, he has helped high school students find summer programs, pre-college programs, and colleges that align with their interests and goals. He has an interest in assisting students with the transition from high school to college. Mike is a manager for Student Education Programs, an online directory that is designed to connect high school students with valuable summer pre-college opportunities.

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Donna Andrews

Donna has worked in the field of education in a variety of positions. She has been a high school teacher, college academic skills coordinator, and university professor. She has helped students achieve success in summer STEM programs and sports programs. She has also coordinated and taught in pre-college programs for high school students.

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