Young Filmmakers Academy

The Virginia Film Festival's Young Filmmakers Academy is a collaboration with Light House Studio and local schools. YFA is part of the VFF's Outreach & Education Program. Enrollment in YFA is free and open to Charlottesville and Albemarle elementary and middle schools.

Enrollment for Fall 2018 "Adventure and Discovery" is now open!

What is YFA?

Designed to engage youth in authentic film production, Young Filmmakers Academy (YFA) introduces students to the challenges of filmmaking. Students work in teams to write, produce, and edit short films around a common structure. After the writing, directing, filming, and editing are complete, the VFF honors our Young Filmmakers with a red carpet premiere of their films.

Under the guidance of Light House Studio teaching artists, YFA participants learn about filmmaking through classroom-based workshops. The Light House Studio team develops curriculum, works with teachers to schedule school visits, and leads lecture on different aspects of filmmaking, giving students the opportunity to learn from the experts at the only youth filmmaking studio in Virginia.

Thanks to all who made YFA 2017 a success! Check out our red carpet photos here. The 2017 Young Filmmakers Academy was supported by the YMCA.

Educator Sign Up

Review the Young Filmmakers Academy Guidelines. Enroll your students by completing the online registration form.


  • May – August 20, 2018: Young Filmmakers Academy Educator Sign Up (Reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis and confirmation of program acceptance is on a rolling basis. YFA can accommodate up to 600 students in Fall 2018.)
  • Wednesday, August 29-Tuesday, October 9: Light House Studio in classroom workshops run (schedule determined by LHS and Educators)
  • Wednesday, September 26: Names and T-shirt sizes of participants due to VAFF
  • Wednesday, October 10: Films and Screening Information due to VAFF
  • Saturday, November 3: Red Carpet Premiere of YFA Films at UVA Arts Grounds during VAFF’s Family Day

2018 YFA Theme

Each year students participating in the Young Filmmakers Academy are given the challenge to incorporate a given theme into their films. The 2018 Young Filmmakers Academy is:

An adventure is an unusual, exciting, or remarkable experience. Discovery is the act or process of finding or learning something for the first time. Collaborate with your classmates to create a short film about an adventure that leads to a discovery. Use your imagination to create your own story and characters, or choose someone in history whose important discovery helped shape the world we live in today. Your film should tell the story of the adventure your characters go on to make their discovery.


  • Decide who the characters are, what kind of exciting adventure they go on, and what discovery they make.
  • Determine what the setting is, what the action is, and what dialogue to include.
  • Consider how to present the story so your audience will understand your film: will it be in chronological order, will there be a narrator, or will you show flashbacks?
  • Get creative with sets, costumes, props, sound, and/or special effects to enhance your film.


  • Work together to share your ideas, script your story, film your adventure, and make your edits.
  • All films must be original works created by you and your team.
  • Maximum running time for your film is 2 minutes including credits– no exceptions, not even a split screen second.