George Lucas Educational Foundation

Building Career Skills in Video Production Class (Tech2Learn Series)

Starting with four hand-me-down cameras and four donated computers, high school teacher Jim Sill and his students built a successful media production business in Central California. 
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Building Career Skills in a Video Production Class (Transcript)

Jim: The look on a kid's face to realize that three or four weeks ago, they had nothing but an idea, and now they've impacted kids emotionally. They've literally had an emotional experience watching their film. I love that kids have the opportunity to get that from a classroom like this.

Jim: And then you guys don't go on until Friday, right?

Student: Nope.

Jim: I teach three different classes. The Intro to Video class is where kids work on projects that are cross-curricular. They learn how to shoot, they learn how to edit, they also learn how to research, they learn how to write. It's a wonderful introductory class to the rest of the program.

Jim: Here we go in, three, two.

Student: Better get biking.

Student: For sure. Biking is always a fun way to go.

Jim: I also teach an advanced media broadcast class. That's a TV show that we produced that airs at the school level twice a week. So the entire school watches our show during homeroom.

Student: What's up, Miners?

Student: Hey, guys, hope everyone's having a great week. How was your weekend?

Student: It went well! I had fun at the volleyball tournament, but I'm glad to hear that everyone had a blast at prom.

Jim: And then I teach an Advanced Video Production class, and that class is where kids really get into video production. That's the class where they work outside of the class. They work with other companies that maybe hire us to produce things.

Student: What if we interview some seniors that do have a job? Like--

Student: Yeah, yeah, yes.

Student: Ask them like...

Jim: Every kid in the class has a job, and we rotate those jobs out. So we have hosts, we have what we-- basically talent. I also have a crew. They're the ones who light and shoot and run the room. And then there's a shooter, and an editor. The producer is in charge of writing, and directing that crew.

Student: Okay, so where am I starting from? Am I starting from, like, right here?

Student: Yeah.

Jim: What I love about it is when everything works perfectly, we switch. And so every kid has another chance to try another job.

Student: I heard that you received an 80 percent of a full-ride scholarship to...

Jim: I try very hard in here to create a real-world working space. The first day you're in here I tell you about the equipment that's been bought by the kids that came before you. "The work the kids did before you got here bought that camera, they bought that computer.”

Student: I'm trying to do something that's like, "Home Alone Meets War of the Worlds," you know? I've already got some great point-of-view shots. I kind of used some saturation to make it kind of like a bluish-greenish color.

Jim: You have to learn how to use the camera, and learn how to edit and learn how to write and voiceover. I want them to have the skills that are worth money, and that they can go out and literally get a job locally, or at maybe a bigger market television station.

Jim: All right, c'mon.

Jim: The Advanced Film Class is the class we started with. It's advanced for a number of different reasons. I aligned it with the UC Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum. So they get UC credit. We're also one of the few Apple Certified Training Centers for Education here in California. And so these kids can take the final cut pro test to become certified pros. Plus, we have also the high-end equipment that is being used by these kids.

Jim: You want to play that back?

Student: All right.

Student: This class has, like, completely changed what I do in any other of my classes, because I looked at other classes as, I need to get through here just to get out. Now I'll take math, and I'll see all the ways I can use it for my advantage. And every classroom, I'm trying to now take and see how I can use it for me, how can I better myself? How can I take this and apply it to the real world? And I'm looking at every class like that now, thanks to Video.

Jim: And you want one of the cameras?

Student: We need two.

Jim: The school calls on us in that class to produce things that they might need maybe for some rally, or for a message that the principal's trying to convey. I have whoever asks us to do a production come in here and talk to us like a client.

Student: The focus is your like this, and then you're just going to like see here.

Jim: I want kids to realize that with these tools, and with these skills, you can change the world that you live in. And so we have started doing work for these local agencies, mostly non-profits. And boy, I love to have my kids partner with them. I love for my students to realize that, "Wait a second! I just made a big difference!”

Student: Hey, that tripod's coming.

Student: Okay.

Jim: We've been approached by the Tulare County Council on Child and Youth Development to put together a video that they can use to really showcase how important early schooling is for students. And my students are going to script it, and most likely come up with most of the questions that we're going to use to interview people. Plus look around this environment and find out what needs to be shot. How do we capture the importance of that level of education?

Student: I think if we were to interview Judy, it should be in there, just ’cause that's her office, and you know, more formal looking...

Jim: By letting kids go out of the classroom, and see what I taught them modeled, or mirrored in a real client, all this becomes more believable. And when you actually go out in the real world, and you actually meet these clients, and you work with them, they get such a bigger understanding of what's being taught. They start taking that little bit of groundwork that I've laid, and they start filling in the gaps. You know, they really start going, "I need to do this. I need to do that." And the next thing you know they're becoming real filmmakers.

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  • Producer: Zachary Fink
  • Producer / Director: Stephen Brown
  • Director of Photography: Mario Furloni
  • Editor: Jacqueline Santillan
  • Title Sequence: Randy Murray Productions
  • Digital Media Curator: Amy Erin Borovoy
  • Executive Producers: Erin Crysdale & David Markus
  • Thanks: Chris Fitzgerald Walsh, for help finding the teacher profiled in this episode.

Produced in partnership with the Teaching Channel.

This 2012 work by The George Lucas Educational Foundation & Teaching Channel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License

Tech2Learn Video Series

Our video series goes inside the classrooms of educators who use technology tools in their lessons every day. Learn from their challenges, celebrate their successes, and share their resources in every episode.

This series is a co-production with the Teaching Channel.

Additional Resources and Tools from Mr. Sill

Visit the Tech2Learn series page to see more resources.

Comments (3) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Mark Newton's picture
Mark Newton
High school journalism teacher

Hands down, the best 21st century skills classes in any high school are the journalism classes -- video, newspaper, yearbook. Connect -> Communicate -> Collaborate -> Create -- that's exactly what journalism classes do. Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity/innovation -- that's exactly what journalism classes do. What if every student took a journalism class?

Mike Byster's picture

As an educator, I believe it is very important to teach material that is important for the future of the students. When inventing my math and memory system Brainetics (, I wanted to focus on new subjects and innovative methods to teach. By teaching for the 21st century, students will be more prepared in the future. It seems like so many aspects of today's society centers around the digital environment and teaching should be altered to adapt.

Great article,

Mike Byster
Inventor of Brainetics, Educator, Author of Genius, Mathematician

Amy Erin Borovoy (aka VideoAmy)'s picture

Hi Ben ~

How exciting! I don't have any offhand resources for teaching yearbook, but I do have some for teaching video production.

I started a Pinterest board called "Video in the Classroom" where I have links to many articles both about using pre-produced videos and about teaching kids to make videos: I keep adding to it all the time, so check back in the future for more helpful resources!

Here are a few of my favorite articles and resources:
Vimeo Video School:
Kids' Vid Curriculum:
School Video News:

And another great way is to connect, via social networks, with teachers already doing it -- you could start with the teacher featured in this video, Mr. Sill -- follow him on Twitter at @mistersill or check out his website here:

Best of luck to you!

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