On September 24 the first Memphis film festival for youth will be hosted by Indie Memphis at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education downtown. The event is Youth Film Fest and will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for young artists to see the work of other young filmmakers and to learn from experienced film professionals.

The Indie Memphis Youth Film Fest is a full-day event for students grades 7 - 12. Young artists will see their work on the big screen, attend workshops and talks from experienced filmmakers, and compete for prizes. The purpose of the festival is for students to learn and be inspired by alumni filmmakers, while enjoying a fun event that is made just for them. The public is invited towards the end of the day to attend the screenings of the youth films to support these future filmmakers.

The Theater at the Halloran Centre

The Theater at the Halloran Centre

Indie Memphis received 38 submissions from Memphis-area youth and over 300 from across the world. The finalists will compete for the grand prize of a full-day production package from VIA Productions with equipment and crew, valued at $4,000, plus $500 of cash and an invitation to screen at the Indie Memphis Film Festival.

The man behind Youth Film Fest is Indie Memphis Executive Director Ryan Watt. "I have been pleasantly surprised with how many films were made after we made the announcement in May," says Watt. "We only had four months to organize this first event, so it was great to see so many teenagers inspired to make short films in time for the submission deadline."

Indie Memphis Executive Director Ryan Watt

Indie Memphis Executive Director Ryan Watt

According to Watt, the biggest challenge has been organizing the event for the first time and getting the word out across the city. They are hoping for as much participation as possible from a wide variety of schools.

On what he's most looking forward to, Watt says, "I'm most excited about being in the theater with a room full of students to see their reactions to watching each other's films. I know it will be an eye-opening experience for the filmmakers and will motivate other students to make films for next year's festival."

Ultimately, Indie Memphis hopes that the event provides the foundation for their Youth Program to build year-over-year. Their next plan is for a mentorship program, where students are paired with alumni filmmakers to guide them as they work on their next films. In the future, they would love to have a summer camp where students work in teams to make short films.

Thanks to a grant awarded from GiVE365 at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis and a grant from the Downtown Memphis Commission, the Youth Film Fest passes are FREE to all students while space is available. However, space is limited so students are asked to apply in advance at General public tickets will be available to purchase to the Youth Screenings pending availability after student registrations. 

To learn more about Youth Film Fest and to register a student visit Indie Memphis' website.