Originally Published by Time Warner.
Warner Bros. Entertainment has partnered with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and nonprofits Young Storytellers and Ghetto Film School (GFS) to create two new in-school programs, Story Lab and First Cut, designed to cultivate the next generation of storytellers and filmmakers. As the first new programs launched under WB Good, the Studio’s social impact platform, this public-private partnership offers participating students the opportunity to gain hard and soft skills pertinent to the entertainment business, as well as unprecedented access to the industry. The announcement was made today by Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Warner Bros.
“These programs allow Warner Bros. to use our strengths and resources to make a real difference by inspiring and empowering the next generation of storytellers,” said Tsujihara. “We have incredible partners in LAUSD, Young Storytellers, and Ghetto Film School, and working together, we’re literally changing these students’ lives. I’m very proud of this initiative and the great work of everyone involved.”
“Through this partnership between L.A. Unified, Warner Bros., and our community arts partners, Ghetto Film School and Young Storytellers, we have been able to engage students through the power of storytelling,” said Dr. Frances Gipson, Chief Academic Officer for L.A. Unified. “We are so fortunate to work with such dedicated organizations, and passionate teachers, who are willing to take risks and lead the charge in transforming our students lives through the arts.”
Warner Bros. worked with LAUSD, Young Storytellers, and GFS to develop and create these teach-the-teacher programs, which included extensive teacher training sessions hosted on the Studio’s lot in Burbank. Each program was designed to be scalable and project-based, and Warner Bros. intends to deploy both in more schools moving forward. Additionally, staff members from Young Storytellers and GFS provide in-class support to the teachers for their respective programs, each culminating with end-of-season events to showcase the students’ work.
With 30 teachers from eight middle schools and eight high schools across LAUSD’s six local districts teaching the parallel programs, more than 1,500 students have participated in the inaugural pilot seasons of Story Lab and First Cut. Both programs are expected to continue in the upcoming school year.
“The WB Story Lab and WB First Cut programs have shown us all what happens when the creative industry, arts community, and school district join forces to make a difference in the lives of our young people,” said Rory Pullens, Senior Executive Director of Arts Education for L.A. Unified. “Not only are we engaging students and teachers in new and exciting curricula, but we are building a bridge to the industry for the next generation of artists, leaders, and storytellers.”
Warner Bros.’ Story Lab developed in partnership by Warner Bros., Young Storytellers, and the LAUSD’s Arts Education Branch and Division of Instruction was created to inspire a generation of young people to recognize the power and value of their own voices. Through a teach-the-teacher model, Story Lab delivers original, in-school curriculum to sixth-grade middle school students that focuses on core storytelling skills while reinforcing confidence, empathy, and personal voice through self-reflection and creativity. Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment lent the use of its iconic DC Super Heroes as a tool to get students to think about heroes in their lives and their own “super powers.” In creating their own original super hero-inspired stories, the students’ output which includes writing assignments, biographical comic books, and oral presentations encompasses key methods of storytelling.
“Story Lab provides young people the incredible opportunity to identify unique super powers within themselves, which they use to overcome challenges they face in their lives,” said Bill Thompson, Executive Director, Young Storytellers. “Through this program, students have a platform that nurtures the confidence needed to voice their stories to discover their inner super hero. In Story Lab, young people learn that every one of their stories matters.”
Warner Bros.’ First Cut, launched by Warner Bros., GFS, and the LAUSD’s Arts Education Branch, is an in-school program that provides filmmaking skills to high school students who may not have had access and exposure to this method of creative storytelling. Both media and non-media teachers trained by GFS’s educators are participating in the pilot, which offers four versions of the curriculum and avails teachers the option to choose one to teach their students. Featuring hands-on experience in shooting a short film from start to finish Warner Bros. provided equipment to classrooms in need First Cut intends to equip young people with foundational filmmaking skills for use in future storytelling opportunities and careers.
“Our team at Ghetto Film School has been eager to launch this essential program since its early inception,” said Stosh Mintek, Executive Director, GFS LA, Ghetto Film School. “Along with our incredible partners, we are committed to amplifying the voices of these young storytellers by investing their passion for creative expression, and allowing them to take charge, having full autonomy over their craft and its narrative. When you can get a fire burning early in young creatives, they realize how good it feels to tell a story and bring it to life. We look to cultivate this ambition and launch it down a long, successful career path.”
Through intentional nonprofit investments, robust programs, and social impact initiatives across the studio, WB Good reinforces Warner Bros.’ commitment to inspiring youth through storytelling, creating access and opportunity for new voices, and making stories sustainably.
To learn more about these programs, please visit www.wbgood.com.