Matt Kennedy and Levente Mihalik dream of running a prestigious academy where the most serious young people will come to study, learn, and develop their craft. Their company Young Moviemakers (YM), is already well on the way to being exactly that.
YM is an award-winning film and production company that runs unique film programs introducing young people, aged 5 – 18, to the diverse aspects within the film industry. Through the production of short films, students learn everything from screenwriting, filming, editing, editing, acting and more.
“We run the programs throughout the year, and the kids are responsible for creating a final product that is screened for their friends, family, and community,” says Kennedy. “We focus on a final product of highest quality.”
The pair met in high school where they were inspired by their drama and film teachers, Jim Crescenzo, Nick Akrap and Tanya Zambrano, whose trust, love and guidance instilled in them the importance of community, social responsibility and the arts.
“That trust and responsibility is the ideology we are carrying forward and put on the students in our programs,” says Mihalik. “That trust was empowering.”
Kennedy and Mihalik started working as film and theatre mentors in high school, teaching kids throughout the summer how to make films. They took that experience and launched YM in 2014 and their programs have been growing ever since. They have a team of up to 12 staff filmmakers and produce well over 100 short films with over 500 students every year.
The idea is to connect young film makers with one another, and introduce them to the many career possibilities the industry has to offer. In their three years of running the program, they have already seen great successes.
“One of our students is now the lead on a YTV show, one was in the Planet of the Apes, and a lot are having really great success in commercials,” says Mihalik. “A number of our students go into freelance work for corporate companies too.”
YM’s success has led to a wealth of possibilities for the program too. They have been approached by numerous people about the possibilities of taking their programs into the US, Europe and Asia and have even established a program and produced films with youth from the Volta Home Orphanage in Ghana, West Africa. They have growing relationships with numerous private and public schools, are looking at the dream of establishing a permanent studio space in the lower mainland.
“It’s a new market that has opened up,” says Kennedy. “We’re thankful for all the help we had along the way. And we’re happy to be contributing to this positive community.”