YMDT Grand Prize Winners Experience SXSW

March 23, 2009 at 11:07 am 1 comment

ymdt-sxsw-1-color-croppedPosted by Amy Looper 

As the South By South West (SXSW) 2009 Film Conference and Festival winds down, the Young Minds Digital Times (YMDT) First Annual Film Competition concludes as well. This year’s inaugural winners, Rainer Herrera from Miami, Florida and Justin Rightmer from Austin, Texas were our grand prize winners who received trips to the internationally acclaimed SXSW Film Conference and Festival. 

[Pictured above: Justin Rightmer, YMDT Young Filmmakers Doing Good grand prize winner from Manor, Texas with his chaperone, Les Simpson, Manor New Tech High School Digital Media Literacy Instructor and Apple Distinguished Educator.  Rainer Herrera YMDT Freeform grand prize winner from Miami, Florida with his chaperone Sandor Sanchez and Amy Looper, OneSeventeen Media and Young Minds Digital Times Co-founder. ]

sxsw-logoWhile our ace Director of Community Content, Amy Strecker, wearing her YMDT Director’s hat and Michael Castro, technology guru extraordinaire of Sybilmedia, did all of the heavy lifting to make this competition a huge success, Beth Carls and I had the honor and pleasure of accompany these young filmmakers to SXSW. I must say the biggest thrill I personally had at SXSW this year was receiving a brief, but excited text message from Rainer after he attended one of the film panel sessions. It simply exclaimed, “I just met my hero!” Justin, as well, waited patiently for two hours to get a front row seat that same day to meet one of his filmmaking heroes. 

You’ll see a post or two over the next few weeks as Rainer and Justin have one last assignment for YMDT – to post a short compilation of their thoughts and impressions from their SXSW experience. I can’t wait! 

ymdt-sxsw-2-bw-croppedWe’re most grateful to our sponsors and to the professional judges who so generously donated their time to not only vote in the competition, but also give all of the YMDT finalist valuable feedback. Ultimately they selected our grand prize winner for a life changing experience at SXSW. In fact, you might think that the only reason students entered this competition was for a prize, but the number one request from our participants was for professional feedback. This completely supports the growing trend we hear and see in young people – they want more interactivity and feedback from all of their endeavors, including film competitions, school and social networks. They want to compete with their peers on a national level in a variety of platform while collecting real world experiences by working with professionals in the fields that interest them.  [Pictured above: Rainer Herrera and his chaperone and film co-creator, Sandor Sanchez, smile for the camera with YMDT judge and sponsor Anastasia Goodstein, Ypulse founder.]

If I had my way, SXSW would have a dedicated portion of their conference specifically tailored for young people interested in the film, interactive and music industries. Today’s technology and the wide spread availability for youth to create user generated content is quite possibly laying the groundswell for just such a thing. Rainer and Justin both expressed desire for a SXSWY conference! There’s an incredible opportunity here! 

My thanks to the many teachers, parents and friends who not only supported their students’ participation in our competition, but who are there day in and day out to encourage and support the dreams of these young filmmakers.  I encourage you to check out our sponsor page and support the sponsors’ and judges’ companies who donated time, talent and expertise especially during these tough economic times. These folks didn’t let our students down when they easily could have bailed due to the economy. 

Finally for me, the true delight of SXSW this year was watching Justin and Rainer light up, wide eyed and full of unbridled excitement. It underscores the many reasons why it’s so important for any of us who can, to reach out in any way to encourage a young person’s dreams and aspirations. Even the smallest comment has the potential to positively influence them. If you’re moved to help us create as many real world experiences as possible through the Young Minds Digital Times Film, Music and (coming soon!) Creative Writing Competitions let me know. There are plenty of ways to help us make next year’s SXSW grand prize winner’s trip a dream come true! 

I encourage you to take just a minute and think about the pivotal moments in your life when you met that someone or had that one experience that changed your life. This is what I saw at SXSW this week in Justin and Rainer — an experience of a young lifetime that will continue to inspire them for years to come. 

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Entry filed under: Doing Good, Kids, News, OneSeventeen Media, Young Minds Digital Times, Youth. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Beth Carls  |  March 25, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    While we attended the very first SXSW Interactive Festival over 10 years ago and have attended several years since, this one was special because we were able to see the immediate impact on the young people who attended with us. I strongly suggest anyone who works with teens to not just give your money to support the causes they’re involved in, but take the time to engage with them, learn from them and you’ll reap rewards many times over.


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