Student Filmmakers Hit the Video Bigtime

Pflugerville Connally High School students attending the Texas Film Hall of Fame Awards in March 2012

Several high schools in the Austin, Texas, suburb of Pflugerville (pronounced FLOO-ger-vil) are setting the pace in media education. Led by award-winning instructor Humberto A. Pérez, the Cinema du Cannes Project is empowering the school’s diverse student body to produce video films that are not only engaging and compelling but that frequently tell “underrepresented” stories of African Americans, Latinos, and others.

Began as an after-school non-profit organization, the project’s name derives from its goal of submitting student-made films to the famous French film festival. It grew out of Connally High School’s Video Technology course. According to Pérez, the project aims to impart “21st-century skills like collaboration, communication, creative problem solving, leadership, and digital-age literacy,” by involving students in the creation of “media-rich content for real-world solutions.” Pérez founded Cinema du Cannes with Dana Glover and Michelle Carter of Midian Films, a video production company in neighboring Round Rock. Pérez works with a team of other instructors in his school district and partners with local firms in the technology and film community.

Students taking Video Technology or its sequel, Independent Study of Technology Applications, participate in the creation and delivery of a variety of video formats such as narrative shorts, video advertisements, school news programs, PSAs, documentary shorts, and animation. While gaining an understanding of the technology behind video as an information medium, students acquire technical skills in story design, writing, cinematography, sound design, and video editing. They discover that learning digital media is “more than just a grade”—it’s an “empowering experience!”

As video revolutionizes the way young people learn and communicate, the Cinema du Cannes Project is providing student filmmakers opportunities to take their educational journey beyond the school walls. In fulfillment of their dreams, a small group of students creatively financed their own trip to Cannes, France, in support of their short films Fallen, Facing, and Life Sentence. And for their work, the project was recently honored with a Dewey Winburne Community Service Award at the 2012 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival.

Image credit: © Photo by Pflugerville sophomore Eli Berke/Cinema du Cannes Project

Related Links

  • Cinema du Cannes Project
    Check out the student-run website Cougar Productions that highlights the award-winning high school video project.
    (Source: John B. Connally High School; accessed March 31, 2012)
  • Video 101
    Explore video tutorials for beginning filmmakers who “can’t tell a camcorder from a coffee maker”; includes “Choosing a Camera,” “Editing Basics,” and more.
    (Source: Vimeo Video School; accessed March 31, 2012)
  • Ghetto Film School
    Visit the website of a group of educators and students in The Bronx (New York City) whose love for storytelling and filmmaking led them to create programs for high school students similar to those in the Pflugerville, Texas, schools.
    (Source: Ghetto Film School; accessed March 31, 2012)
  • Humberto Adrian Perez—SXSW Dewey Award Nominee
    View a brief video of Cinema du Cannes Project cofounder Humberto Adrian Pérez accepting a Dewey Winburne Community Service Award at 2012 SXSW Interactive.
    (Source: YouTube; accessed March 31, 2012)


  1. JUAN PALMA says:

    I think that our school should also do that because it would help us get more opportunities.

  2. christina says:


  3. devin says: