Archive for January, 2011

Maine Youth-Produced Movie to Screen at Frontier Cafe Brunswick

January 31st, 2011

April’s Heart will screen at the Frontier Cafe and Theater in Brunswick Maine on February 15 from 7 – 8:30 PM. If you plan to attend you must call 373-6958 to RSVP. Teen creators of the movie along with other community members will be on hand. Find out more about the movie at As an exciting added event, the new Project AWARE movie A Shoestring for Mackenzie will premiere a trailer. The movie is currently in post production and will premiere in the Fall of 2011 and promises to bring teen perspective to how we support and encourage the passions of youth. See more info below!

A Shoestring for Mackenzie is a real story about how parents and society encourage kids to know their place and not themselves and what is expected of them and not what to expect. Visually stunning, triumphant, and moving, A Shoestring for Mackenzie is a short, powerful message about the healthy passions of youth.

In January of 2010, Project AWARE solicited ideas for a movie to be shot at their advanced Summer film Institute. Ema Jane Hutchins, a Sophomore at Sanford High School, and a a crew member for 2 previous Project AWARE movies responded with a powerful story of a 17 year old girl who had experienced challenging times, and now lives the life she wants. It is about the character’s dreams and about the positive impact she has on those around her.

In the spring of 2010, Ema worked with Project AWARE, Gum Spirits and 2 other teens to bring her story to life in a 20 page screenplay. Characters were cast and the Institute drew experienced youth from around the state to act the crew. The movie was shot over 1 week in August. Crew members learned all aspects of production and put those to use bringing the screenplay to film. Find out more about the Project AWARE Summer Film Institute here.

Now in post production the team continues to include Ema, Ruby DayBranch, Gus Minnott, and Emma DayBranch as youth taking the lead in editing, music and more. Gum Spirits continues to act as support for creative and technical  issues. Project AWARE, parents and other youth will work on raising the funds needed to complete the movie. If all goes well, it will premiere in the Fall of 2011 and be available on DVD as a resource for schools and communities who wish to inspire and educate youth about following their dreams and passions, and letting go of old stories that get in the way. If you want to help in any way to bring this amazing youth project to the finish line please call or e-mail Project AWARE at 207-282-5598 /

Keep tabs on the production through our blog and by becoming a fan on our Facebook page at And also share with your friends!

April’s Heart Screens in Kennebunk

January 27th, 2011

“The movie will make people think differently … it will open their minds more to understanding how they should get to know someone before they judge them.”
Salinda Dong, Director of April’s Heart and a Senior at Sanford High School in Maine

Where: Kennebunk Free Library

When: Wednesday February 2, 2011 at 6 PM

Free and open to the public. Call 985-2173 for more info. Pizza served!

April’s Heart is based on real-life stories from a suburban high school. The characters in the movie are survivors … like their real-life counterparts in the cast and crew … like the young people who dared to put their stories on paper, and like teenagers everywhere who balance their immense challenges with unbelievable strengths.

The Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative, Sanford (Maine) High School Film Club, Project AWARE and Gum Spirits Productions led a  year-long production effort to create April’s Heart. The goals included empowered young people, safer schools and healthier teens. Ultimately over 200 students, staff and community members were directly involved, making it one of the largest after school programs the town has ever seen.

Project AWARE and Gum Spirits provided support to young people in 4 main areas: overall coordination and production; presentations to the student body and staff; training for cast and crew; and finally filming and post production for 4 Public Service Announcements and the 35 minute dramatic movie short, April’s Heart.

The Film Club started with some powerful questions: Do we really know teenagers? What is behind the faces we see every day? How are kids hurting? To get answers they offered, through fliers and presentations, each and every young person in school an opportunity to submit anonymous true stories as ideas for concepts, story lines and ultimately the script.

In addition, young people volunteered for a specific area of interest in the movie making process, ranging from acting to crew. Ultimately 22 young people trained with professionals to crew the movie and close to 100 actors attended 2 castings at the school. By the end of the project, April’s Heart included 120 cast and crew, many additional youth supporters and at least 3 school classes supported by their teachers … plus the outpouring of community support through donated time, money, food and more.

“April’s Heart is important because it reflects everyone. We normally do not know how a person really is until we see it from a different view … people make assumptions which may not be true (when) you see through the eyes of that person. In the movie, April is pretty much the eyes of everyone. “

“The movie will make people think differently … it will open their minds more to understanding how they should get to know someone before they judge them. The movie (story) takes place in every high school and all the characters reflect someone (we are or know) in a certain way. Everyone here (on set) including myself can relate to a character(s) in this movie – and (people who watch this movie) will get a different view and (ultimately) they will learn from each of those characters.”

Salinda Dong, Co-Director of April’s Heart and a senior at Sanford High School


January 5th, 2011

Dec. 2010

Thank you for your interest in empowering young people to lead. Project AWARE and youth are accomplishing great things. Here is a taste:

  •  Last Friday a young man who attended our Summer Film Institute spoke to 600 of his Middle School peers during a PA program telling his personal story and showing a PSA he created on bullying.
  • Today the Project AWARE Players will continue their work on a 20-30 minute live production to be completed this school year…. and practice for upcoming presentations.
  • Next week, 2 youth will finalize the trailer for our new movie which tells the story of an empowered youth and the impact she has on those around her.
  • In early January we will meet to continue our program with the Freeport Middle School Peer Leaders.
  • In mid-January we will contract with our next client on a statewide project to create educational videos including a movie and PSAs. This will be our 6th movie.
  • In early February, we will collaborate with the youth advocacy programs at Brunswick and Mt Ararat High Schools and screen our 4th movie April’s Heart at the Frontier Café In Brunswick.
  • … and so much more

 As we move into 2011, we are gathering local experts to help us determine the structure and direction for Project AWARE in light of the tremendous success we have had supporting and empowering youth.

On Set with 15 year old movie Director Ema Hutchins and Jim Cole of Gum Spirits Productions