We’re proud to continue our partnership with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and to share a new post in our series on The Labs @ CLP, a digital literacy initiative that takes makerspaces to the next level by building embedded partnerships with arts and tech organizations in Pittsburgh.  This week, Labs mentor Nicole Antonuccio makes her debut on the site and shares the exciting partnership between The Labs and Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  Enjoy! ~Erinn


by Nicole Antonuccio

Make a Movie!  That’s the task we presented to the teens that signed up to participate in our 3-week Super 8 filmmaking workshop titled Make a Movie!, which was made possible by a wonderful partnership between The Labs and Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  And what a daunting task it was: conceiving an idea, plotting out the narrative, visualizing the shots, shooting the footage, and then editing it down into a completed audio-visual experience.

The process of filmmaking can be overwhelming. I have witnessed many projects begin with passion and enthusiasm rivaling that of George Lucas on the set of Star Wars that slowly dissolve to a dulled curiosity under the many roadblocks and challenges of actually shooting and editing. Under the fearless leadership of Michael Johnson and Marie Mashyna, our partners at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, the Make a Movie! workshop gave teens the tools and guidance needed to successfully write, shoot, and edit a short film.

Photo 1

Caption: Michael shares various film cameras with the group and explains how the lens works.

The workshop met weekly at all four of The Labs locations for three three-hour sessions. The first week provided an overview of the filmmaking process and gave time for plot development; the second week was strictly used to shoot the footage; and the final week was used to edit the footage together into the final movie.

To add another hurdle to the filmmaking task list, we designed this workshop around the use of Super 8 film! Learning how to use Super 8 began with a tutorial on the process of analog cameras, a discussion about the importance of light in film and–the real kicker–the frugality required when shooting with Super 8 film.  You could hear the jaws drop when Michael explained that we could only use two reels of film, with each reel supporting only three minutes of footage.

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Caption: Eddie contemplates what three minutes of film looks like on a reel.

With the ingrained benefits of instant gratification that most teens expect from digital media, I was delighted by the interest and excitement the groups had about working with Super 8 film.  Everyone really rose to the challenge, and despite what Michael referred to as the appearance of the “4-headed-director,” all of the groups worked really well at collectively tackling the three step process of conceptualizing, shooting, and editing their film.

Michael explains the filmmaking process to the group at CLP -Main.

After this workshop, making a movie is in the realm of possibility, and now the creativity can begin. The true value of this partnership is that through the combined resources of The Labs and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, we were able to present a process to interested teens and provide an experience-based, hands-on workshop that will provide them with knowledge and education needed for future independent filmmaking.

This is our third year partnering with Pittsburgh Filmmakers (the first since the launch of The Labs), and it has been a real privilege to have such an incredible organization contribute their knowledge and resources to create such a valuable, hands-on educational opportunity.  Pittsburgh Filmmakers is a nonprofit arts organization that is committed to providing equipment resources and educational opportunities in the visual arts, particularly digital video, photography and film.

To view some of the completed projects check out the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Super 8 Workshop playlist on YouTube!


Nicole Antonuccio is a mentor at The Labs@ CLP, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s teen-only learning lab. She earned a BA in American Studies, concentrating in Visual Studies and Film, from Cornell University in 2011. She uses her passion for digital media and film to inform her time at The Labs. You can follow her Labs activity on her Facebook profile.


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