Teen Filmmaking Summer Camp: Meet an Instructor

By Vince Matthews

Digital Media Academy hires the best technology teachers around. Industry professionals, technology educators, award-winning media creators, instructors like Lee Manansala. They share real-world experience with campers and help the maker generation create the future.

We caught up with Manansala who was working on his thesis film project at NYU, to talk about DMA and the art of filmmaking.

Lee Manansala

What’s it like teaching film summer camp for teens?
Digital Media Academy’s week-long teen film summer camp courses really rejuvenate and inspire me, and it has less to do with the professional satisfaction a teacher feels after a day of work, but more to do with being around immensely creative, eager, and talented young filmmakers. Every one of my students has come to class with ideas, sometimes more ideas than they know what to do with. It’s my job to help them organize those ideas, turn them into a story.

What can teens expect at Digital Media Academy film summer camp?
At Digital Media Academy I emphasize a sound, three act story structure, which to my mind is the difference between kids having fun with a camera and Digital Media Academy Teen Filmmaking Summer Campers setting out to make a short film. And instead of burying and intimidating my students with technical stuff (something that happened to me when I first became serious about cameras and editing software), I give them the essentials. We use sophisticated cameras and very powerful editing and authoring software, but it’s more important to know how to utilize them for our specific needs. When the technical aspects of digital filmmaking are more approachable, a young filmmaker is more likely to return to it and cultivate his or her love for it.

Do teens need any special preparation for Digital Media Academy’s teen summer film camp?
Ultimately, what my students bring to class is joy. It’s the joy of being around and working with other young people with a similar passion for film and creativity. It’s the joy of having an idea for a movie and seeing it through until it is, in fact, a movie. I’m only too happy to help and watch it unfold before me, because I, selfishly, get as much from the experience as my students do. The digital filmmaking teen summer camps courses at Digital Media Academy are an incredible opportunity (one I wish I had when I was teenager) to immerse yourself in a creative medium that is challenging, rewarding and fun.

All the creative bits—the sound design, the effects, the varied shot selection—are all the products of the students’ imaginations. The courses culminate with a screening of all of the work; I was incredibly proud to watch the final film, and was gratified by the smiles on my students’ faces as they enjoyed the result of all of their hard work. The teens deserve all of the credit, but I like to think that my instruction pointed them in the right direction.

What’s next for your filmmaking work Lee?
I am set to teach the digital filmmaking courses for teens at Digital Media Academy teen summer filmmaking Harvard Summer Camps and Brown University Summer Camps.