Project VoiceScape is a partnership with Adobe Youth Voices, PBS and POV to mentor today’s best young documentary filmmakers. Keep up with news from the filmmakers and their mentors on the Project VoiceScape blog.
Matthew Seife, of Scarsdale, N.Y., has been composing short stories and putting them to film since he was a young boy, but he’s come a long way from his hand-me-down Panasonic camcorder and its huge plastic cassettes.
Since attending a filmmaking program at Northwestern for the first five weeks of his summer vacation, the teen has been working diligently to complete his documentary, Little Steps, in time for an October showcase in Washington, D.C.
But Matthew doesn’t mind the extra pressure. He’s committed to his craft, and foresees himself as a double major in college, studying both biology and filmmaking.
In making his Project VoiceScape film, Matthew is drawing on his years of experience volunteering with Autistic and special needs children. The film tells the story of the Miracle League, a baseball league for children on the Autism spectrum. It showcases what both the participating children and their parents stand to gain from participation in the sports program.
“Playing baseball provides so much more than learning to throw or catch,” says Matthew. Parents look forward not only to watching their children play and learn new skills, but they also benefit from the opportunity to socialize and share information with other parents. Matthew hopes to show how playing baseball, the “all-American” sport, provides a normalizing social atmosphere for families, and how group activities can help them combat feelings of isolation and stress.
Matthew has been shaping his story with the mentorship of Yoni Brook (Bronx Princess). With Brook’s guidance, Matthew is limiting the number of “voices” heard in the film, and focusing on one or two children, so viewers can connect more deeply with their stories.
“Following his recommendation,” says Matthew, “I made an appointment to go to one of the families’ homes and get to know them better. I think having this vantage point will help make his story more personal for viewers.”