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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, July 25, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsUnbreakable Film Academy: Empowering Virgin Island’s Youth

Unbreakable Film Academy: Empowering Virgin Island’s Youth

Peter Bailey, a renowned journalist and filmmaker, has embarked on a transformative mission to empower the youth of the Virgin Islands through the art of filmmaking. Inspired by his documentary work, Bailey has created the Unbreakable Film Academy, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at high school and university students. This innovative program provides a platform for young aspiring filmmakers to tell their stories, celebrate their culture, and gain hands-on experience in the film industry.

Peter Bailey is an award-winning author, journalist and filmmaker, well known for his critically acclaimed “NiteCap” and “Paradise Discovered” docu-series. (Submitted photo)

Bailey’s journey began with his “Paradise Discovered” series, which shed light on the lack of media coverage during the hurricanes that devastated the Virgin Islands. Motivated by the need to tell the untold stories of his homeland, Bailey raised awareness through his New York Times op-ed and subsequent films. The seeds for the academy were planted in 2015 when Bailey involved students in the production of his “Nitecap” series, giving them a taste of real-world filmmaking. This collaborative effort continued with the premiere of “Unbreakable 2.0” in 2022, co-produced by students, showcasing Bailey’s commitment to nurturing young talent.

Bailey’s vision for the Unbreakable Film Academy is deeply rooted in his belief that the Virgin Islands and the broader Caribbean region have historically been deprived of the opportunity to tell their own stories. Too often, their narratives have been shaped by outsiders, resulting in caricatured portrayals. Bailey emphasizes the importance of humanizing the people of the Virgin Islands and reclaiming their stories. He draws parallels to his career in the United States, where he worked to humanize marginalized communities, and now seeks to bring that same ethos back home.

The Unbreakable Film Academy is a three-month program designed to fast-track students into the film industry. Unlike many initiatives that start after a career has waned, Bailey is launching this academy at the peak of his career, offering students a unique apprenticeship experience. Participants will co-produce feature films and episodes of the “Nitecap” show, gaining real-life credit and building a substantial work portfolio.

Peter Bailey debuts film to the student body as he aims to inspire the next generation of filmmakers. (Submitted photo)

Bailey’s students will not only learn the technical aspects of filmmaking but also delve into the art of storytelling. The curriculum includes seminars such as “Intro to VI and Caribbean Cinema” and “Unbreakable Portraits,” where students create short vignettes on local heroes using their smartphones. This blend of traditional and modern techniques ensures that students are equipped to tell compelling stories in various formats, from feature films to short-form digital content.

A core goal of the academy is to build a community of local creatives who can thrive within the Virgin Islands, reducing the need for a “brain drain” where talent leaves for opportunities elsewhere. By partnering with local artists, filmmakers, and institutions like the University of the Virgin Islands and the Reichhold Center, Bailey aims to create a sustainable ecosystem for creative talent.

One of the academy’s long-term objectives is to establish the Virgin Islands as a central hub for film and media in the West Indies. Bailey envisions the Unbreakable Film Academy as the catalyst for a vibrant Caribbean cinema industry, one that tells stories from the region’s unique perspective. He highlights the importance of preserving and celebrating both historical and contemporary narratives with projects that explore cultural phenomena like Carnival and significant events in Virgin Islands history.

Recognizing the rapid advancements in technology, Bailey incorporates the use of smartphones and digital media into the academy’s curriculum. He notes the potential of devices like the iPhone, which are increasingly capable of producing high-quality films. This approach democratizes filmmaking, empowering students to create impactful content with the tools they already possess.

The academy’s innovative methodology extends to its production process. Students will be responsible for generating social media content and digital campaigns for their projects, ensuring a constant stream of content that promotes Virgin Islands culture and stories.

The Unbreakable Film Academy is currently accepting applications for its inaugural cohort, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and other local partners. High school and university students interested in film and storytelling are encouraged to submit a 30-second video explaining their passion for sharing Virgin Islands stories. This first group of five students will help prepare “Unbreakable 2.0” for distribution, setting the stage for a new era of Caribbean cinema. 

Peter Bailey’s Unbreakable Film Academy represents a bold and visionary step toward empowering the youth of the Virgin Islands through filmmaking. By providing them with the skills, tools, and opportunities to tell their own stories, Bailey is fostering a new generation of storytellers who will preserve and celebrate their culture while shaping the narrative of their community. The academy stands as a testament to Bailey’s belief in the power of storytelling and his commitment to giving back to his roots, ensuring that the stories of the Virgin Islands are told with authenticity, respect, and pride.

Potential inductees should send an email to unbreakable@nitecapmedia.com. It is open to high school students and UVI students.

To view the trailer for the program, click here.

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