Quiet on the Set! Teen Program Hopes to Train Miami's Next Great Filmmaker

Teen filmmakers learn about CGI at MAGIC Studios Miami Dade College.
Teen filmmakers learn about CGI at MAGIC Studios Miami Dade College. Courtesy of Quiet on the Set!
Earlier this year, the film Moonlight won critics' hearts. The story, adapted from a Tarell Alvin McCraney play by his fellow Liberty City-raised director Barry Jenkins, proved to the world that Miami is fertile ground for filmmakers.

Now, Quiet on the Set! Teen Filmmakers Program hopes to educate Miami's next Barry Jenkins.

The program aims to teach digital film production to teens in areas such as scriptwriting, cinematography, and film editing. Founded by Joan Gringer, a longtime producer and consultant from New York, Quiet on the Set! wants teens to get creative with a medium that's often out of reach to them.

“The process of the program provides teens with opportunities to be creative and inspired by the professional filmmakers that work with them as they are introduced to the technology and gain skill and self-esteem,” Gringer says. “The group dynamic of working towards a result — the short film — requires cooperation and collaboration, which has enormous influence on their potential futures.”

Back to One!, the organization's current program, is a partnership with Urgent Inc. Its focus is youth and community development, especially in neighborhoods with fewer educational and cultural resources than most, aiming to empower young minds to encourage positive changes in their communities. Gringer says both programs share a commitment to the school, the home, and the community to teach life skills to the students. Right now, Back to One is working with kids from Overtown; a Liberty City program is in development.

Back to One! has taken students to visit film facilities with lectures on new technology, equipment, and talks from the crew and staff at each venue. So far they have visited RED Digital Cinema Miami, the Temple House, Magic City Studios, and VER.

After more than a year of organizing the program, Gringer is happy to finally see it come to life. They are looking for sponsors and funding because the program is free to the teens participating. Gringer hopes to expand the program within South Florida, to reach teens through collaboration with other organizations such as not-for-profits, county agencies, foundations, schools, and arts organizations.

But for now, the program's efforts will concentrate on educational enhancement, technical training, and life-skills development using recreational-style instruction.

“This emphasis will be on storytelling, using their lives and communities through the art of film,” Gringer says. “This opportunity will provide them with the ability and structure to create and contribute to their passions.”

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Christian Portilla is passionate about people and her city. She covers community, culture, and lifestyle in Miami and abroad. Follow her work on