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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, VAFF 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 lectures on different aspects of filmmaking, giving students the opportunity to learn from the experts at the only youth filmmaking studio in Virginia.

2019 Program Schedule


  • Tuesday, September 3-Tuesday, October 22: Light House Studio in classroom workshops run (schedule determined by LHS and Educators)
  • Wednesday, October 2: Names and t-shirt sizes of participants due to VAFF
  • Monday, October 28: Films and screening information due to VAFF
  • Saturday, November 16: Red Carpet Premiere of YFA films at Light House Studio’s Vinegar Hill Theatre

If you are interested in YFA or have any questions, please email yfa@virginiafilmfestival.org

2019 Challenge

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

The 2019 Young Filmmakers Academy challenge is:


An invention is something that has never been made before that fills a need, makes something better, or solves a problem. Inventions often make the world a better place. Collaborate with your classmates to create a short film about an invention, what it does, and the need it fills or problem it solves. Use your imagination to create your own story about a new invention or choose someone in history whose important invention helped shape the world we live in today. Your film should tell the story the characters go through to create or design their invention, what the invention does, and how that invention makes an impact on the characters or the world in which we live.


  • Decide who the characters are, what problem they are trying to solve, and the invention they create.
  • 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.

Red Carpet Premiere

Each year, Young Filmmakers Academy culminates in a Red Carpet Premiere of each students’ completed film.

The Fall 2019 YFA Red Carpet Premiere will take place at Light House Studio’s Vinegar Hill Theatre on Saturday, November 16.


YFA Challenges

  • 2018: Adventure and Discovery
  • 2017: Creating Peace
  • 2016: Choices and Consequences
  • 2015: Silver Screening and Silver Linings
  • 2014: The Big Screen
  • 2013: A PROPer Film
  • 2012: Celebration
  • 2011: Young Filmmakers Academy

YFA Red Carpet Premiere Photo Albums:

VAFF Administrative Offices
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