YouTube, the site known for videos of cats playing piano and other home movies, is sending some of its users to film school.
YouTube has teamed up with the University of Southern California and Columbia College Chicago to run boot camps this summer for a select group of amateur video makers chosen by the company and the schools’ professors.
Beginning this month, both institutions will run five-week training programs intended to help the budding filmmakers, who were chosen based on work they’ve uploaded to their YouTube accounts. A total of 20 participants was selected, and 10 will attend each program. YouTube is covering the cost.
“On YouTube or anywhere else—whether it’s a two-minute film or 20-minute film—it’s still all about storytelling, and you have to begin with that,” said David Weitzner, director of Southern California’s summer program.
The university plans to stream footage from some of the lectures presented to the students so others around the world can tune in as well. “If that means, down the road, someone in Singapore decides to come here to study film, that’s great,” he said.
Elizabeth M. Daley, dean of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, noted that YouTube and other video-sharing sites have already transformed the way students at the school distribute their work and break into the business. “In the past, the big issue was getting anyone to see your work because you had to lug a film reel around,” she said. “Now it’s how do you get someone to take the time to watch your work. With everybody able to make something, how do you stand apart?”
One of the YouTube stars heading to Southern California is Lauren Nash, a 21-year-old artist living in Las Vegas. She posts time-lapse videos of herself painting small works on canvas. She started making the videos a couple of years ago, using a camera she borrowed from her father. She learned the skill by reading video-editing books she checked out of the public library.
“I’m definitely hoping that I can learn some regular techniques when it comes to video making because I’m self taught and I’ve never had any kind of formal training,” she said.