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Peninsula students write and produce films with Hollywood talent

Photo courtesy of Newport News Public Schools
Newport News students wrote and produced films with Hollywood support.

The Next Generation Storytellers program worked with Hampton and Newport News students to create professional films from start to finish.

Guided by a national organization, Newport News and Hampton high-school students have spent the last few months writing, acting, directing and working with a full production team to produce movies.

"I definitely didn't think I'd be doing it this young," said Nolan Madison, a 2025 student who directed a movie, “Omelot Sunday.”

Next Generation Storytellers is an organization created by Jacob Young and Trent Garrett. Garrett grew up in Hampton Roads and now works in the film industry, as does Young.

By using their expertise and experience, they help students understand the filmmaking process and get professional credit for their work.

"We always wanted to give back to the community of film and TV that supported us over the years,” Garrett said. “We were fortunate enough to get to a place where it provided us an opportunity to have a platform to lift other people up to that place.”

The Next Generation Storytellers program is a 24-week curriculum where students are taught to write films. After eight weeks of finalizing scripts, the program shifts into "Movies 101," where the students are taught about every aspect of a movie set via mentorships through Hollywood directors, writers, producers, showrunners and camera operators.

"I think most importantly, everything that you know is by trial by fire,” Young said. “I started when I was 17 years old, I didn't know anything. I had only gone to theater programs. So being on set, I had to learn every aspect and my space on my own.”

Since the second year, the NGS program has doubled its range and accepted more schools. The program started with four schools and now works with 13.

The program supported four student films in Hampton and six in Newport News.

The Next Generation Storytellers strive to do more than teach students about the film industry. Their goal is to create pathways for their students to continue to use the knowledge they’ve learned and create real career opportunities for themselves.

Next Generation Storytellers give their students the opportunity to receive an IMDb credit for their work.

"We're wanting to connect them into the industry and, you know, working job titles outside of this, which is why everyone gets an IMDb credit, that's the industry standard, but also connect them with colleges, so that we can create scholarship funds and pathways into film school after this,” Jacob Young said

Newport News and Hampton public school systems are members of the Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association, which holds WHRO’s broadcast license.

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