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After-school film class for high school students begins March 6

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News from MAPS Media Institute 

RONAN — The MAPS Media Institute will bring filmmaking to eighth- to twelfth-grade students at an after-school class at the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake County, beginning March 6. 

Classes are on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4:30-6:30 p.m., extending to May 30. Students will learn every aspect of filmmaking, including scriptwriting, acting, scene design, camera operation, audio recording and editing. Students will produce a short film at a professional level, which will premiere at a community screening in May.

This is the third year for the MAPS-Lake County program. Helen Smith, an 11th-grade student who participated in the previous years’ sessions, will be a teaching assistant. She describes the program as a hands-on learning environment.

“Every class featured us doing something, whether that was writing, editing or shooting, and it made learning so much fun because of that,” she said. “I learned so much about the art of filmmaking. Before, I only had a vague idea of everything that actually goes into making a short film, but the MAPS-Lake County program took me step-by-step through the entire process, from brainstorming in the writers’ room to filming and directing and editing. I learned about everything that really goes on behind the cameras, and I have developed a much deeper appreciation for filmmaking, as a result.”

Aric Cooksley, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club, is excited about the opportunity to partner with MAPS. “It’s a game-changer for kids on the reservation. It gives them opportunities and experiences they can’t get here otherwise.”

Established in 2004, the MAPS Media Institute teaches media arts skills in afterschool and summer classes to students living in Ravalli County. In recent years, this opportunity was extended to other rural areas in Montana through the MAPS Media Lab. Funded by the Greater Montana Foundation, the MAPS Media Lab is MAPS statewide outreach program, which provides community-driven media arts experiences to Montana’s rural and reservation youth.

“Access to professional media artists and creative tools should not be restricted by geography or socio-economic status”, says Clare Ann Harff, MAPS executive director. “Creative collaborations like this ensures that MAPS can be shared with more students across our state.

“We are very excited to be working with MAPS,” said Cooksley. “This is, I believe, the beginning of a generational partnership and collaboration.”

In 2017, MAPS was honored as one of the top twelve afterschool programs in the country with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Programs Award. The honor was well placed, in the view of Helen Smith.

“MAPS made a difference in my life by encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone and explore new things I never thought to try before. The environment is always so welcoming, and the instructors are very passionate and knowledgeable about the things they teach.”

The MAPS-Lake County after-school film class is free of charge and made possible by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts. “The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA acting chairman Mary Anne Carter. “Through the work of organizations like MAPS Media Institute, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

For more information and to apply, go to or call 406-381-7230.

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