The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education

By Margaret Lim

Recently I became aware of the Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education, a non-profit organization based in the Los Angeles area. The organization furthers the legacy and creativity of Mary Pickford, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Institute has a public research library, in addition to offering educational initiatives using film, video and digital media. Their hope, according to their website, is “to empower students by helping them realize they have a voice that is worthy of being heard.”

At the CUE Conference in Palm Springs, we met Andi Hicks, director for the Mary Pickford Institute. In what follows, she tells about the Institute’s two Mobile Classrooms and reflects on her experience in meeting DMA instructors at CUE:

marypickfordmobileclassroomThe Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education’s educational outreach program is designed to “Ignite an Excitement for Learning” by introducing the world of digital media to students through our two Mobile Film Classrooms.  Each of our production studios on wheels is fully equipped to teach 21st Century learning skills to students in Grades 3 – 12.  (although we have had great success with kindergarteners and special needs children and adults, as well.) Our buses provide total environments where students can focus on learning both technical skills and the art of creative storytelling. Technically, students learn basic camera operation, graphic composition and placement, computer competency, how to digitize and manage data, video and audio editing, information gathering through the internet, and how to output and upload.  Most importantly, students learn that they have a voice and one that is worthy of being heard. Scholastically, students are encouraged to use and expand their knowledge of math, language, geography, science and history to augment their storytelling skills.  We feel we have created an educational interface to carry students from the classroom to their unique place global community. 

I was personally thrilled to discover DMA. And I became even more enthusiastic after attending two 20-min. “pop-out” sessions (Adding music in FCP and Basic Camera Techniques).  The instructors were succinct experts who took a personal interest in each attendee. What I learned in those 40 minutes is invaluable, and I will make use of every tip and instruction in not only in my own work, but also while working with others.

I know that concentrated professional training through DMA can only result in the ability for the teachers and staff at the Mary Pickford Institute to become even more proficient and enable us to provide a higher quality of instruction and inspiration to our students.  I look forward to a long and exciting future between the Digital Media Academy and The Mary Pickford Institute for Film Education.

Andi Hicks
Director, Mary Pickford Institute