Roku Offering Guidance to Student Filmmakers

Roku Jan. 11 announced the launch of its Roku Change Makers Program, created in partnership with Roku Originals and Fresh Films. Roku founded the program to provide youth from multicultural backgrounds an opportunity to not only get training and gain exposure to the media and entertainment industry, but also to create short films for audiences to stream on The Roku Channel. 

“When we created this program, it was of the utmost importance for us to not only mentor and teach students, but also to amplify their voices by putting their work in front of actual audiences,” Brian Tannenbaum, head of alternative originals at Roku, said in a statement. 

 The seven-week-long program provided more than 250 high school students from 23 cities across the country with a curriculum, teaching the next generation of talent the ins and outs of ideating, creating and releasing a film.

Additionally, Roku employees across various business organizations mentored the students, providing them with career advice and guidance, as well as a deeper look into how different groups of a large media and entertainment company work in lockstep toward a singular goal.

Students also had the opportunity to visit Roku offices to see employees in action and have dynamic conversations about career paths in the entertainment industry. 

Talent is everywhere, and youth just need an opportunity like this to open the many career possibilities in their futures,” said Kelli Feigley, founder and managing director of Fresh Films.  

Fresh Films productions give youth IMDb credits and can be seen in theaters, on Paramount+, Roku, PBS, IFC, DirecTV, Prime Video, and iTunes, and at major retailers and internationally.

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In the inaugural program, students were given the opportunity to create a project that brought awareness to a social subject that is important to them and share positive “change making” happening in their communities that addresses the cause.

Select student projects will be featured as Roku Originals on The Roku Channel. Projects from the inaugural class of the Roku Change Makers Program include: 

  • Chicago high school senior Korey Ziemkowski telling the story of how she founded a non-profit that builds food pantries and works to improve people’s lives.
  • Detroit student Angela Reyes talks about how the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation helps to uplift teens from difficult and dangerous circumstances into bright futures.  
  • Iowa farmer Brandon Reis tells how he took steps to improve the health of his farmland and how he helps other farmers to do the same.  
  • Los Angeles musician and hip-hop dancer Dezzy Yates shares how he came to use his passion to help himself and others heal from difficult pasts.