Mayor Joseph P. Ganim

Film Makers Educational Cooperative (FMEC)

Primary Goal

The primary goal of Film Makers Educational Cooperative (FMEC) is to reach out to middle and high school students, regardless of academic record, to help them discover their personal creative strengths and guide them toward practical application of their gifts. We are guided by the premise that all children have talents. Specifically, FMEC seeks to introduce students to careers and jobs within the ever-expanding field of media and "Entertainment Software". However, the communications skills and exposure to technology received at FMEC will help students in whatever field they choose. FMEC provides inner-city, at-risk youth with a viable alternative to negative behavior, as they become involved with goal-oriented and structured artistic programs.

Media Arts As a Viable Profession

Artistic approach: Students work with professional writers, directors, designers and acting teachers. They learn technique, structure, development, and formatting while discovering and maintaining their artistic point of view.

Technical approach: Students learn about the camera, audio engineering, and all the jobs on a standard crew. Professional editors and animators introduce students to the technology - hardware and software - that transforms what they shoot into finished work. Costume and design set programs include emphasis on the craft skills needed to construct what the design calls for.

Cultural approach: Students learn about the impact of media on society as well as how society has changed media. Responsible use of media is a major theme of all FMEC programs.

How FMEC Began

FMEC began in 1998 with a Summer Film Camp for middle and high school students. Working hand-in-hand with the Bridgeport Enterprise Community Partnership (BECP), FMEC enrolled approximately 40 students to pick up a camera for the first time and express their views about the city in which they lived. The result was a nine-minute documentary entitled, "Dreams Do Come True", in which they celebrated the beginnings of economic change and the removal of the Jersey barriers in their neighborhoods that symbolized harder times.

The second Summer Film Camp ran in 1999 and expanded to include middle and high school students from the region, not just Bridgeport. Professional instructors guided students through the production process: Writing, pre-production, principal photography, editing and post-production. Forty students collaborated to produce four, ten-minute films – one comedy, two dramatic and one documentary. Also in 1999, FMEC began an after-school program for the high school students of Bridgeport, beginning with a Careers-in-Industry Exposition. Almost 700 students participated in this daylong event filled with equipment, industry professionals and displays. They circulated among exhibits dedicated to acting, writing, set design, sound production, editing, animation, camera, Teleprompter, make-up and costume design, talking to industry professional s on hand to answer questions and demonstrate their areas of expertise. A staged presentation depicted a working film crew, star and set. It was simultaneously videotaped and fed to a large TV screen above the stage, thereby demonstrating the technologies of both film and video.

FMEC Instructors

All FMEC instructors are working professionals, including members of several professional unions and organizations: Directors’ Guild, Writers’ Guild, Screen Actors’ Guild, International Television and Video Artists (ITVA) and International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE). Professional equipment has been provided by the Museum of Sound Recording and Newtech ("Lightwave" animation software) of New York City, and Connecticut-based companies like Conover Production Services and HB Communications. FMEC encourages participation of school guidance counselors and the Department of Youth Services in selecting and supporting students as they move through the program. Currently a guest of the City of Bridgeport, FMEC seeks to open a permanent facility, centrally located and available at all times.

The Director of Recruitment at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Carol Kirn, has acknowledged FMEC as a feeder program. Ten seniors have been invited to attend an open house to learn about the University’s program and scholarship opportunities. FMEC’s high school juniors are applying for the Future Filmmakers workshop at Tisch.

Financial Support

Mayor Joseph Ganim supports the arts and the valuable lessons children can learn through arts education. In 1998, FMEC received grant support through Bridgeport’s Central Grants Office and the Bridgeport Enterprise Community Partnership. Funding for 1999 has come from the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation, the Fairfield County Foundation and a three-year Century Community Learning Centers Grant as received and administered by the Board of Education and Department of Youth Services. The City of Bridgeport has provided office space, phone and computer support, and classrooms to FMEC at no charge as we seek funds to open our own facility.

Additional support has come in-kind or in discounted prices from many vendors to defray the considerable costs of providing quality media arts education from: Palace Production Center, South Norwalk; Conover Production Services, Milford; HB Communications, North Haven; Atlas Scenic Studios, Bridgeport; Soundview Community Media, Bridgeport; Newtech, New York; Avid, Tewksbury, MA; Museum of Sound Recording, New York; McDonald’s, Bridgeport; Subway, Downtown Bridgeport; and many more. 


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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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