Nurturing talent

Ben is 10.  He was running around the house the other day with his mother's iPad, going into rooms, shutting the door, then coming out minutes later and going on to his next location.  He was filming something, for some reason, and though I didn't know what the subject or storyline was, there was no question that he was a man on a mission.  He got rather annoyed when I had to interrupt his creative process to serve dinner.

Later that evening, he came over to where I was sitting on the sofa.

"Can I show you what I've been working on?" he asked.  Normally, it's Heather and I that have to do the asking to see his creations, but the fact that he was reaching out was not lost on me.

"Absolutely," I said.

What he had created over those couple of hours was a 6 minute short thriller, complete with opening credits, music and a riveting story with myriad shots and locations.  He did all this with no budget, one tool (the iPad), imagination, inventiveness, and no training.

As he pictured the shot in his mind, he would find some way of propping up the iPad, against a pillow or something else, press RECORD, move into the scene and act out his part.  It was a period piece, and even though he was in a 21st Century home, he used available props, along with shot and wardrobe choices, to suggest the story was unfolding in 19th Century England.

It struck me that if he was able to write, organize and film a plausible thriller in just a couple of hours with the one tool that was available to him and the training he had received watching YouTube videos, imagine what he could do with just a little guidance, access to tools and time.  I shake my head picturing the possibilities of where his raw talent could go if given the chance, if nurtured.

I thought I was being inventive in 1978, holding up my radio shack cassette deck to the radio to record the songs that were being played during the the Top 100 Countdown on New Year's Eve. What Ben is doing blows my mind.  I'm guessing he is not alone, and that hundreds of young kids in our community are doing similar things in a variety of different disciplines.

It got me to thinking about what a Young Filmmakers Camp might look like, and what I, as a parent, would happily pay to give Ben an immersive experience that would allow him to explore this creative passion.  Thankfully we have the Fort McMurray Filmmakers Association that are doing extraordinary development work in this community.  They are going to talk about the possibility of a learning experience like this in the future.

It makes me think this morning of other kids, maybe showing tremendous creativity, curiosity and talent in other ways.  Are we as a community providing the facilities and programs to nurture and encourage them?  Where are the gaps? What are the opportunities?

If you have any stories of young people in our region who have an artistic talent that need to be nurtured, supported, resourced and encouraged, please let me know (  Together, we can work toward closing any gaps that exist to ensure that these emerging creatives have every chance in the world to utilize their gifts and pursue their passions.


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