Featuring Film

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Posted by Administrator at 11/15/2021

by Hilary Hirtle, WeConservePA

Incorporating Filmmaking Into Your Programming Line-Up

For many parks and recreation organizations, nature-based photography contests and classes are a staple part of scheduled programming, so why not expand into filmmaking?

Entertaining and informative, film is a powerful storytelling tool that can allow us to look at the natural world in new ways, to share perspectives not readily seen, and to prompt discussion. It is also a great team-building activity that fosters creativity and participation.

If you’re considering adding a filmmaking program or contest to add to your programming line-up, but are unsure of how to get started, consider the following: 


What are you hoping to accomplish? What would you like participants to gain from this experience? Are you hoping to create a partnership with an arts or cultural organization as part of this endeavor?

Program Format

Are you intending to create a workshop? A week-long camp? A contest? If you already have an established photography contest, consider opening the contest to video submissions. Adapt the rules to reflect the medium (consider desired length requirements, creativity, message, submission theme, etc.).


Who is your intended audience? The Camacho Activity Center in Austin, Texas has held successful youth-based film and photography programs that can serve as a blueprint for possibilities. Adults shouldn’t be overlooked as an intended audience. If considering an adult filmmaking program, they can follow the aims and format of a youth program, but with adjustments made to the length of commitment for the program (instead of a week-long program, a one or two-day workshop would probably be best).


If costs of equipment are a concern, gone are the days in which budgets needed to accommodate expensive technical equipment. In today’s smartphone-filled world, access to a decent video camera isn’t hard to come by and you can create a short film easily just by utilizing a smartphone (indeed, smartphones are heralding a new age of accessible filmmaking opportunities). Microsoft and Apple products often have video editing software built into their products, allowing access to free editing software. Free Music Archive can also serve as a resource for royalty-free music.

From experience, I have found that successful programs focus on providing participants with an overview of the filmmaking process (writing, camera operation, sound, lighting, and editing), with the goal of creating a short film (anywhere between 1-3 minutes in length) that encompasses a theme. Consider the possibilities that will work best for your organization. 

Happy filmmaking!