Youth Initiative Programming


Since its inception as an educational not-for-profit organization, the Woodstock Film Festival has been committed to youth and education as a means to positive development, conflict resolution and growth opportunity.

In addition to providing classes and internships for local schools, the Woodstock Film Festival has presented special workshops and seminars designed to stimulate and to provide resources not readily available in the local area. Additionally, local film production opportunities, made available through the Hudson Valley Film Commission have provided career opportunities.

Nine films screened at the 2012 Woodstock Teen Film Program including three by local teens as well as films from around the country. The films screened to a sold out audience at the Kleinert James Art Center in Woodstock and featured a Q&A with the young filmmakers following the film presentation.

The Woodstock Film Festival proudly presents its Teen Film Program each year as an event that encourages young filmmakers and showcases some of the best young talent from the local region and across the country and around the world. The event marks WFF's yearly commitment to presenting and promoting teen films and high school students from around the world who make them.

"What sets teen films apart from all other films is the fresh perspective, the honesty and the passion that usually comes through..."- Heidi Johnson



Career Day

Students from the region enjoyed a day of interaction with filmmakers, actors, producers, writers, animators and others from the film business. 

Students at Onteora High School saw the film HOLDEN ON and afterwards heard from many special guests in a round table like setting. They were able to speak with Tamlin Hall and Matthew Fahey from HOLDEN ON as well as hear from Kurt Voelker the writer and director of the film THE BACHELORS. Two highly respected and successful producers also joined in on the conversation, William Horberg and Jonathan Burkhart. They gave advice on how to get a start in the film industry and the dedication and love needed to have a successful career in the field. 

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Career Day is a rare and highly practical opportunity for students (between ages 14-20) who are interested in careers within film and media fields. The event, which was started in 2001 by NYU Industry Liaison Jeremiah Newton presents the opportunity for first-hand communication with highly respected professionals. Participants have included... 

Elmer Bernstein - 14 time Academy Award® nominated composer (The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, Trading Places, The Great Escape, Far From Heaven)
Hilary Brougher - Director ((Stephanie Daley, The Sticky Fingers of Time
Ellen Chenoweth - Casting director (No Country For Old Men, Michael Clayton)
Giancarlo Esposito - Actor, director (The Cotton Club, Desperately Seeking Susan, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Law & Order, Racing Daylight
Larry Fessenden - Acotr, Director (The Last Winter, Wendigo, Habit)
Leon Gast - Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker (When We Were Kings)
Rachel Grady - Documentary Filmmaker (Jesus Camp, Boys of Baraka
Ryan Harrington - A&E Indie Films
Sabine Hoffman - (Personal Velocity, Brother to Brother, Fairy Tales)
Gill Holland - Producer (Hurricane Streets, Sweetland, Flow: For Love of Water , Mountaintop Removal)
Andrew Hurwitz - Entertainment Attorney
Jason Kliot - Producer (Chuck & Buck, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Bubble, Redacted)
Ellen Kuras - Oscar Nominated director (The Betrayal), & cinematographer (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Ballad of Jack and Rose )
Melissa Leo - Oscar Nominated Actor (Frozen River, 3 Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Racing Daylight, 21 Grams
Donal Logue - Actor (The Daily Show, ER, The Knights of Prosperity, Ghost Rider)
Annie Nocenti (co-directed the documentary The Baluch. She was the dramaturge on the play Stitching, starring John Ventimiglia and Meital Dohan, and wrote the feature film Patriotville, starring Justin Long. As of 2009, Nocenti teaches film in Haiti.)
Ron Nyswaner - Academy Award® nominated Screenwriter (Philadelphia, The Painted Veil, A Soldier's Girl)
Liz Ogilvie - Head of Programming for Docurama
Bingham Ray - As president of United Artists (No Man's Land, Bowling for Columbine, Personal Velocity, Nicholas Nickleby, Pieces of April, and Hotel Rwanda)
Norman Reedus
 - Actor, director (The Boondock Saints, The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day)
Doreen Ringer Ross - Vice President of Film/TV Relations of BMI Music licensing
Rachel Sheedy - Agent (Don Buckwald Agency) 

Jessica Sharzer (filmmaker, The Wormhole, Speak)
Zachary Sklar - Academy Award® nominated screenwriter (JFK, Feast of the Goat
John Sloss - Executive producer and attorney (Before Sunset, The Fog of War, Pieces of April, Far From Heaven
Haskell Wexler - Academy Award® winning cinematographer (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Living City, Medium Cool)


WFF continues to produce, present and promote workshops for young, and old. Most recently, the WOODSTOCK FILM FESTIVAL presented a Summer Film Intensive Program for a dozen at-risk teens. They were given the opportunity to learn skills in the creative art of filmmaking and visual storytelling.

Guest teacher Zachary Sklar, an Academy Award nominated screenwriter (JFK), said, "Working with the young people at the Summer Filmmaking Workshop was exciting. To help first-time filmmakers learn the craft and find their voice is challenging, stimulating, and very satisfying."

Other guest teachers included Giancarlo Esposito, best known for his role as Buggin Out in Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing. He wowed the students on Tuesday with his lecture on acting and directing and was kind enough to pose for pictures with participating students. Tuesday morning, video engineer and WFF technical director Jeff Kantor gave the students a crash course on lighting and camera work.

Past workshops also include the two-day NYFA workshop on filmmaking and acting for students in grades 9-12. Students were admintted free of charge based on written essays.

One student with the best essay was awarded a week-long scholarship to the New York Film Academy (at either their NYC school or the Los Angeles school on the Universal Studios lot).


As part of a college tour with Oscar nominated animator Bill Plympton, WFF presented a special session for Onteora High School students. Plymtpon presented a selection of some of his favorite work and followed each screeening with a Q&A. Students were enraptured.

FILM THEORY & CRITICISM: This weekly elective provided a forum in which students learn to learn and distinguish production and theoretical techniques.

VIDEO PRODUCTION INTENSIVE: Kindergarten students  were provided an opportunity to create and appear in a series of short films. The process taught pre-production through post-production.

CHILDREN'S MEDIA PROJECT presented The Animation Workshop, which featured a hands-on demonstration of various mixed media animation techniques and facilitated the making of a short animated film. In the Mini Movies Hands-on workshop, CMP provided cameras, editing facilities and media artist/teachers to help teenagers shoot, edit and add sound to create a short movie.

UNDER ONE ROOF - Emmy Award winning Hollywood producer/director Bruce Malmuth presented this intensive workshop, which has toured the world from St. Petersburg, Russia to Beverly Hills to local youth. Over the course of six hours, Malmuth taught the basics of writing, acting and directing.


Our commitment to presenting and promoting films and the students who made them continue full-fledged. Each year, WFF promotes and presents films by college and high school students fom around the world. Past initiatives have included:

TEEN SCREENINGS have featured films by local youth and organizations including Indie Programs, Children’s Media Project, DCTV, Reel Teens, the Oxford Media School and many others. Topics have ranged from a short documentary that examined the media coverage on Bin Ladin to an animated short about a robot running low on his batteries.

Other youth oriented screenings have included The Children’s Hour - Movies, Magic, and a Dummy, and Family Hour.

For the Children’s Hour, which was co-presented by Nickelodeon, special host Steve Charney combined his magic, comedy and ventriloquism with a selection of short movies for children. Films included Low Down Underground, Patrick Swayze: Cartoon Sound Wizard, Shivelry, Sitting Next to Bernie, Swaroop in Bovine Bliss, Waldemar, and the award winning The Box.

In 2001, the festival proudly featured two screenings of the documentary GARBAGE, GANGSTERS, AND GREED, which was produced by Hudson Valley High School students, explores  local landfill and political abuses. The screening was followed by an extensive Q&A featuring student filmmakers, their teacher Fred Isseks, former police officer Armondo Bilancione and United States Representative Maurice D. Hinchey. No event could better demonstrate the power of media in the hands of youth. This event was repeated in 2004 in conjunction with WAMC/Northeast Public radio.  For more information visit our Year Round Archival.

2017 Youth Initiative Programming

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the candidate

The intricacies of a student government election.


Two friends go on a fishing trip. After a successful catch, they cook their meal and try to eat it, but soon realize their fish is not actually a fish.

it takes a village

When the air and water of a village are threatened by a mining company, how can everyone pull together for the greater good, even when jobs are at stake?


A hand-drawn animated film about a girl's struggle with depression.


After freeing himself from his cocoon like state, a man goes on to live a life of work and heartbreak.


A film about the life cycle of a little pigeon.

santa woman

Santa Claus is coming to town and this young woman who just wants to be Santa.


A tween alien on the run finds sisterhood in a small town in upstate New York; but her outer-space captors are closing in.

the raven 

A boy is haunted by the memories of his ex-girlfriend and his best friend.