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True West Film Center delivers California state standards-based film and media arts training to more than 1,000 Sonoma County students annually. You can find us in public school classrooms, after-school settings with school and community partners, and in summer camp opportunities across the county.

If you have any questions, or to learn more about our programs, please contact us.

Need for Media Arts

According to Americans for the Arts, students with consistent access to the arts have higher GPAs, higher standardized test scores, and lower dropout rates. Media Arts Education fosters self-directed learning and ultimately, develops the full range of 21st Century skills. All media arts students are better-prepared for college and career with skills in communication, creative problem-solving, collaboration, and lifelong learning.

Through Media Arts, students are empowered to become practicing cultural participants in their community. While engaged in the multi-modalities offered through the media arts, students acquire critical new literacies in media, technology, and digital culture. However, youth in our community do not have broad access to these learning opportunities. In fact, of the 66,000+ K-12 public school students in Sonoma County, less than 15% will have access to a class in digital media or the media arts.

True West Film Center works to bridge this gap in Media Arts programming with standards-based curriculum. Through creative collaborations, innovative program design, and broad community support, True West Film Center will bring media arts training and literacy to more than 1,000 Sonoma County students.

In-School Programs

  1. Integrated Filmmaking Intensive for English Class: From brainstorming to the final edit, this standards-based class helps students create their own videos for class projects and fun. 

After-School Programs

  1. Future Filmmakers Program: An eight-week, after-school standards-based filmmaking program. Students learn the basics of filmmaking and create their short films.
  2. Summer Film Camp: Students learn standards-based video-making skills and create their own work.
  3. Student Film Competition: Provides youth with an opportunity to share their voice through film and real-world experience of sharing artistic work in a public format. Student filmmakers receive feedback from a panel of professional video storytellers and compete for $3,000 in prize money.

True West Film Center Educational Programs are supported in part by these funders:

California Arts Council
Sonoma County Vintners
Community Foundation Sonoma County
National Endowment for the Arts
Creative Sonoma
CARE Foundation
FiLMiC Pro

Preston Addison & Wendy Conner
Dale & Ann Amtower
Jerry Anderson
Carol Beattie
Kimberly Bender
Tyra Benoit
Steve Bernard
Rachel Brass & Richard D. Foster
Naomi Brilliant
Carrie Brown
Susan Campbell & John McKinney
Susan & William Cary
Church of the Good Shepherd
Tony Crabb & Barbara Grasseschi
Patricia Dahl
Joseph & Sandra Dobbins
Lance & Sarah Dublin
Tanya Dublin
Kerry & Andrew Elkind
Ann Elston & Larry Lossing
Barbara Epstein
Judy Fujita
Rick & Jenny Gomez
Tom Halliday
Neena & Val Hanchett
Alex & Leah Harris
Adrienne Heinz & Barrett Elmer
Patrick Houston
Natalia & Kristina Jaramillo González
Ozzy Jiminez
Hillary & Michael Kambour
Jeanne & Stephen Kearns
Janen & Buzz Korth
Laura Kramer
Tim & Terry Leach
Elizabeth Loebel
Ann Mackenzie & Jack Cortwright
Kristen Madsen & Robb Senn
Susannah Malek
Ingrid Maltrud
Maureen McCalla
Chris McKenna
Winky & David Merrill
Carl Milfeit & Mary Fitzgerald
The Miner Anderson Family Foundation
John and Em Minor
Heather Murray
Turner Newton & Annie Himmelstein
Sharon & Jim Olson
Gary Passarino
Debbie & Mike Potmesil
Phyllis Rosenfield
Peter Rosson & David Barrett
Randall Schai & Sarah Miller
Yvonne Schell & Steve Kent
Jeffrey Schlesinger & Isis Moussa
Wendy & Bob Singley
Conrad Smart
Alex Threlfall
Mike Traina
Dianne & Mark Vernon
Marshall Vincent
Angie Wachholz
Jade Weymouth
Jenny Wilson
Faith Wilson-Grove
Jee & Alex Wipperfurth

Teaching Philosphy

True West Film Center recognizes that teaching is essential work and a form of labor separate from one’s knowledge of filmmaking. Therefore, we developed standards-based lessons for the sake of the teachers employed by True West Film Center and the institutions and organizations at which we teach our curriculum. This grounds our curriculum in the skills and knowledge deemed essential for each grade level we teach. In addition, we teach the curriculum using an intersectional feminist approach as we build our curriculum and interact with students. This means that in all parts of our curriculum, we recognize that everyone has multiple identities that intersect to make us who we are, resulting in overlapping types of privilege and oppression. It is vital that students are able to explore these dimensions of power through class discussion and analyses of films shown as part of the True West Film Center curriculum. We encourage students and teachers to embrace any discomfort that results from such an approach as a sign of learning and growth. Further, we aim to uplift students culturally so that as many students as possible see complex representations of themselves in our curriculum, particularly in the images used in slides and in the films shown as examples to inspire students’ own filmmaking.

Although we are most directly teaching filmmaking, we see an urgent need for students to develop media literacy. We strive to give students the confidence and skills to evaluate and consume media using their knowledge of filmmaking to recognize how a given director uses filmmaking tools to influence viewer understanding of character, image, and story. Simultaneously, student confidence in the importance of their own stories will allow them to compare and contrast their experiences with that presented by a film director. When the two do not align, and a student recognizes that a film tells a story that is not their own, our goal is for that student to honor their own experience, even as they see that the film tells someone else’s story. This foundation results, we hope, in a curriculum that gives students agency in their educational experience, determination to tell their own stories, empathy to recognize and honor another’s story, and a variety of technical skills to produce creative films that take into consideration everyday negotiations of power.

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