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Confused about how to vote? Riekes Center filmmaking students made a video to help

In a creative collaboration, student filmmakers from Menlo Park's Riekes Center teamed up with San Francisco Peninsula People Power to create a short, informative video geared toward informing young people about how to vote this year in California.

Drew Annis directs filmmaking and media arts at the Riekes Center, which has suspended in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About a month ago, he said in a phone interview, a friend's dad approached him about creating an educational video to speak to young voters – in the 18 to 24 year old age group – and provide them straightforward information about how to vote.

That was Bill Newell of San Francisco Peninsula People Power, a nonpartisan civil rights organization affiliated with the ACLU. Newell said in an interview that a committee within the organization has taken on a number of initiatives in the past several years to boost voter turnout for young people, including organizing voter registration drives at local high schools like Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto.

Annis said he brought the idea to his students, who quickly embraced the idea and led the project from there.

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Student participants filmed sections of the video remotely and acquired a demo ballot they could use as a prop to show viewers how voters should use it.

Once the segments were filmed, the students met over Zoom to edit the film, Annis said.

Student Sara Wallace directed the film, and students Julio Deras and Miriam Dijamco supported with cinematography. Bennett Roth-Newell, who teaches music at the Riekes Center, crafted original music including a rap for the video, Annis said.

Carlmont High School students Emily Livesay, Ella Williams and Caroline Larsen-Riffe contributed by doing the the voice overs, explaining step by step how to vote. Bill Newell served as executive producer.

The video is part voting tutorial, and part an expression of "why voting is cool," Annis said.

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"They relished the opportunity to make a video that had some social impact," he said. "This is a moment to influence how we're governed, and how this society is going to operate."

The video has since been circulated to local government and civics classes, middle school social studies classes and local community colleges like Cañada College, Foothill College and the College of San Mateo, Annis said.

One of the high school participants, he said, was eager to participate because although she could not vote herself, she wanted to influence her peers who are just a bit older who can.

"It is pretty meaningful how a group of young high school/college students became inspired at Riekes to join with a grassroots group of civil rights voting advocates in San Mateo (County) to create something that has taken on real meaning here in Menlo Park and beyond," Newell said in an email.

Kate Bradshaw
   
Kate Bradshaw reports food news and feature stories all over the Peninsula, from south of San Francisco to north of San José. Since she began working with Embarcadero Media in 2015, she's reported on everything from Menlo Park's City Hall politics to Mountain View's education system. She has won awards from the California News Publishers Association for her coverage of local government, elections and land use reporting. Read more >>

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Confused about how to vote? Riekes Center filmmaking students made a video to help

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Nov 2, 2020, 11:39 am

In a creative collaboration, student filmmakers from Menlo Park's Riekes Center teamed up with San Francisco Peninsula People Power to create a short, informative video geared toward informing young people about how to vote this year in California.

Drew Annis directs filmmaking and media arts at the Riekes Center, which has suspended in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About a month ago, he said in a phone interview, a friend's dad approached him about creating an educational video to speak to young voters – in the 18 to 24 year old age group – and provide them straightforward information about how to vote.

That was Bill Newell of San Francisco Peninsula People Power, a nonpartisan civil rights organization affiliated with the ACLU. Newell said in an interview that a committee within the organization has taken on a number of initiatives in the past several years to boost voter turnout for young people, including organizing voter registration drives at local high schools like Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto.

Annis said he brought the idea to his students, who quickly embraced the idea and led the project from there.

Student participants filmed sections of the video remotely and acquired a demo ballot they could use as a prop to show viewers how voters should use it.

Once the segments were filmed, the students met over Zoom to edit the film, Annis said.

Student Sara Wallace directed the film, and students Julio Deras and Miriam Dijamco supported with cinematography. Bennett Roth-Newell, who teaches music at the Riekes Center, crafted original music including a rap for the video, Annis said.

Carlmont High School students Emily Livesay, Ella Williams and Caroline Larsen-Riffe contributed by doing the the voice overs, explaining step by step how to vote. Bill Newell served as executive producer.

The video is part voting tutorial, and part an expression of "why voting is cool," Annis said.

"They relished the opportunity to make a video that had some social impact," he said. "This is a moment to influence how we're governed, and how this society is going to operate."

The video has since been circulated to local government and civics classes, middle school social studies classes and local community colleges like Cañada College, Foothill College and the College of San Mateo, Annis said.

One of the high school participants, he said, was eager to participate because although she could not vote herself, she wanted to influence her peers who are just a bit older who can.

"It is pretty meaningful how a group of young high school/college students became inspired at Riekes to join with a grassroots group of civil rights voting advocates in San Mateo (County) to create something that has taken on real meaning here in Menlo Park and beyond," Newell said in an email.

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