Project Viewfinder

Project Viewfinder is an outreach effort of the School of Film that teaches the tools of filmmaking to young adults from underserved populations in Portland, Oregon and beyond.  Working with School faculty members and Certificate Program students, participants create short films to help educate the community about timely issues, using their life experiences as a reference point.

“Project Viewfinder gives youth a chance to draw out their individual talents.  They are motivated to believe in themselves after so many others have given up on them.” – Sue Hays, New Avenues for Youth

Project Viewfinder 2013-2014: Focus on Youth Homelessness

Working with New Avenues for Youth, Outside In, p:ear, SMYRC, BCC-TV, Blanchet house and other social service organizations, in 2013-2014 Project Viewfinder focused on the homeless youth population of downtown Portland.

A total of 14 young adults transitioning from homelessness to self-sufficiency (ages 19-26) worked with Lead Faculty Bushra Azzouz and a team of supporting filmmakers in the Winter of 2013 and Spring of 2014 to create a series of 20 short films about the causes of, and possible solutions to, youth homelessness as seen from their unique perspectives.  

The 2013 films introduce the participants, and their aspirations and inspirations.  The 2014 films focus on five 2013 participants one year later, revealing their inspiring progress on the long path to self-sufficiency.

Watch Project Viewfinder – Part I

Watch Project Viewfinder – Part II

2014 Participant Survey 

  • 100% created a personal documentary film in 2013
  • 50% returned to create a second personal documentary film in 2014
  • 50% attended a follow-up School of Film workshop/class on scholarship
  • 10% served as a Film Center intern following the project

2014 Live Audience Survey

  • 63% said that it is clear from the films that there are solutions to homelessness
  • 70% said that the films show that there are misconceptions about homeless
  • 84% said that projects like these are of great value to the community