AT&T sponsored a youth video contest for the United Way of the Bay Area's MAKE IT BE initiative. MAKE IT BE is a growing movement committed to cutting Bay Area poverty in half by 2020. Right now, 1 in 5 residents struggle to get by. We're going to change that through MAKE IT BE. The selected filmmakers used their creativity and joined the movement!


About the United Way MAKE IT BE Video Challenge
Bay Area high-school students,were selected to get hands-on experience, developing a Public Service Announcement (PSA) that inspires the Bay Area to give back to the community. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!

The selected filmmakers worked on one of two all-teen film crews to create and produce their PSA during a fast-paced, five-day shoot during Summer Break (August 5-9). The PSA that receives the most votes will be shown on local AT&T U-verse this fall!




Here are many more FAQs on the program. If we didn’t answer your question here, feel free to email us:


Who was eligible for the United Way MAKE IT BE Video Challenge program?
The contest was open to high school students from the seven Bay Area counties:


1. San Francisco
2. San Mateo
3. Alameda
4. Contra Costa
5. Solano
6. Napa
7. Marin


How do I enter to become a United Way MAKE IT BE Video Challenge Filmmaker?
The applications are now closed. Check out the selected filmmakers here.


I have no experience in film. Is that a big deal?
There is absolutely no experience necessary to be on a film crew! You just need to have a passion for being creative and the desire to collaborate with other teens to create a public service masterpiece. We'll fill you in on the rest.


Do I have to answer the essay questions on the application?
Yes! It's how we determine your passion for the program and choose our crews.


Can I enter for my friends?
Not if you want to run the risk of them making the crew instead of you! We evaluate each filmmaker on his or her individual entry. But encourage your friends to sign up on their own — it's really easy!


How will I know if I am accepted onto one of the film crews?
The applications are now closed. Check out the selected filmmakers here.


What if I’m out of town for part of the production week?
Unfortunately, you must be available for all five days of production in order to participate in the program.


So, you’re giving me money to produce my video?
Sorry, no film grants. However, we will teach you invaluable producing, directing and editing skills that you will need to know in order to create your own films!


How much is this program going to cost me?
There are no tuition or application fees for the United Way MAKE IT BE Video Challenge program. But you will have to provide your own transportation to and from the production headquarters (note, the exact headquarters location is still being determined, but will likely be in or around downtown San Francisco.).


What is a PSA?


Will my work on a PSA be valuable if I want to create a film?
Absolutely. What you learn in this program can be transferred to nearly any other creative venture — film, music video, documentary and more — because the production process, technical know-how and creative storytelling process are all the same. PSAs tell a story in 30 to 60 seconds or so, whereas films tell a longer form story. PSAs, like films, can have the style of a documentary, a narrative story, or another type of creative.


What is the theme of the United Way MAKE IT BE Video Challenge PSA?
The purpose of your PSA will be to inspire people to get involved with United Way of the Bay Area’s MAKE IT BE movement to cut poverty in half by 2020. But the way your film crew tells that story will be different from each of the other film crews because it will be created from your and your film crew’s unique perspective!


Where will production take place?
The headquarters location is in or around downtown San Francisco.


I don't have a car. Are you going to drive me to the United Way MAKE IT BE Video Challenge Headquarters?
No. If you are chosen to be on the film crew, you are responsible for getting to and from the production headquarters and shoot location each day.  Again, exact location in San Francisco, CA still tbd.


How many film crews will be producing?
There are two crews of teen filmmakers, each of which will making one United Way PSA.


I already have a crew including actors. Can we make our own PSA?
Sounds like you're well on your way to creating films of your very own — congratulations! This program, however, is a team-oriented experience from start to finish. Our program is not designed to produce any one filmmaker's vision. But we certainly hope you go on to make your own films and videos!


Can I be the director?
No one filmmaker will be selected over another to serve in any crew position for the duration of the production week. As a United Way MAKE IT BE Video Challenge


Who gets to write the script?
You! Your team will create the concept for the PSA, then write the script and get it approved (“green lighting”) all on Day 1!


I want to be on the crew AND act in the film. Is that possible?
We LOVE multitaskers. But if you're selected to be on the film crew, we will need you to participate strictly behind the camera. However, you will get to cast any actors for your PSA during an open casting call on Day 2 of the production week.


What equipment are we going to use?
Get ready to start drooling! You will be working on HD camera equipment and professional editing stations that we provide. You'll be teamed up with our Production Interns and Senior Staff to create your film and learn the fundamentals of production, shooting and editing a PSA in just five days.


What’s up with the online voting and what do we get for winning?
The completed PSAs will all be featured online, and the PSA that receives the most votes will be shown on AT&T U-verse locally in the Bay Area this Fall 2011  As part of the five-day production, filmmakers will develop a plan to promote their PSAs to people throughout the Bay Area.


How do I intern with the program?
Interns have all previously participated in a Dreaming Tree Films program like this one. Once you've participated in this program, you will receive information on how to apply to be an intern for the following year. Interns have to be high-school graduates, and be at least in their first year of college.


Who is Dreaming Tree?
Dreaming Tree Films has worked with teen creatives since 2002 when the first teen-filmmaking program was launched at Farragut Career Academy, a public high school on the Southwest side of Chicago. Since that time, Dreaming Tree's Fresh Films initiative has taught the ins and outs of the filmmaking industry to more than 4,000 youth in 27 cities across America. Youth-made films have been viewed over 10 million times via cable video-on-demand, on PBS, at local theatres, film festivals and AFI screenings, and online.


We are excited to be working with AT&T and United Way of the Bay Area to encourage teen creative through the United Way MAKE IT BE Video Challenge - our newest project! For more information, visit


ANY QUESTIONS? Feel free to email us:


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This program, and many others that build teen confidence and leadership through engaging creativity, was produced by


Dreaming Tree Foundation