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Teen Oscar Party 'Takes A Shot at Changing the World'

How does a party at Heinz History Center connect with filmmaking at Pine-Richland High School?

While the rest of the world prepares to watch the Oscars®, the next generation of talented teenagers in the Pittsburgh area will attend Pittsburgh’s Teen Oscar® Party on Sunday to celebrate the Steel City's Hollywood connection and learn how they can make their own movies to change the world.

This special event, hosted by Steeltown Entertainment Project, is connected to the Take a Shot at Changing the World digital media competition in which local schools from Pine-Richland, North Hills, Quaker Valley, Mars and other areas have participated in the past.

The Teen Oscar Party takes place from noon to 2 p.m. at Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh. Doors open at 11 a.m.

Middle school and high school students and educators around the region are invited to participate and find out how they can enter the Take A Shot Contest to win over $10,000.

Festivities will include a Pittsburgh-Hollywood trivia contest, prizes and free pizza. Students will also learn filmmaking tips from Hollywood professionals, see footage from Pittsburgh-related films, and (hopefully) be inspired to make their own movies.

The event is free and open to the general public. RSVPs are encouraged. Email Rachel@steeltown.org to reserve your seat, or call 412-251-0890 for more information.

About the Contest

Take a Shot began in 2010, inspired by Steeltown’s film, The Shot Felt ‘Round the World, which told the story of how Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh pulled together with the city to conquer what was once the most feared disease of the 20th century—polio.

Local schools were given copies of the film and asked to make their own short movies connecting what happened locally with the development of the vaccine, to present-day eradication efforts.

Since then, over 400 students from more than 60 schools have made videos about how Pittsburgh changed the world and what they would do to change their own communities, winning over $20,000 in prizes for themselves and their schools.

How did Pine-Richland students armed with video cameras take a shot at changing the world? 

"If You Want the Rainbow" was written, edited, filmed and acted by Davis Karran and Jeff Burgess. Student Jake Chavara stars in this depiction of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his battle to succeed despite his polio. Click here to view the video.

"Polio and Its Vaccine: A Vlog" is a video log created by Jessica Malandro to tell the story of polio and the vaccine. She filmed, wrote, edited and acted in the video that also includes Kate Colosimo, Mariah Kutchko, Jillian Schmidt, Aafke Loney, Hannah Todoroski and Laura Hancock. Click here to view the video.

In 2012, students were challenged to make films about Pittsburgh Innovations—events that began in Pittsburgh and had an impact on the world at large, or they could make films that featured their own big ideas to change the world. 

The "Ram Fans" video team from Pine-Richland High School created a film called "Animal Friends" that chronicled the story of Pittsburgh's Animal Friends, a no-kill shelter dedicated to finding homes for animals and educating the public. 

To view the video, click here.

"The contest furthers the belief that with a camera, an idea, and a voice, you can change the world, and that film is a viable way to examine and spur meaningful social change," the contest website states.

 

This Year's Competition: The People Speak Edition

This year, students will be inspired by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars as Steeltown has partnered with Voices of a People’s History to present Take a Shot at Changing the World: The People Speak edition.

This partnership was inspired by a special event co-produced in May 2012 by Steeltown Entertainment Project and WQED Studios.

Based on the documentary The People Speak, which Steeltown's own Lisa Smith-Reed co-produced with Chris Moore (Good Will Hunting, American Pie) and Matt Damon, and inspired by historian Howard Zinn’s work, the gathering featured live readings and performances by local and Hollywood talent, including: Promised Land writers and actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski; Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada); and Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand (Fargo).

Those readings and other materials are now being made available to inspire young people to think about how they can take social action. Middle school and high school students are encouraged to enter this year's contest to compete for over $10,000 in prizes.

Awards will be given for videos in the following categories: The People Speak social action prize, Pittsburgh Innovations, and Polio: Then and Now.

Special prizes will be awarded to films about the environment or nonviolence and all films will be eligible for the $1,000 fan favorite prize, which will be determined by a 10-day online voting period.

Videos can be up to five minutes long, and the deadline for submission is May 1, 2013. For more information or to register your school, visit www.TakeaShotContest.org.

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