Told By Us Productions, a youth media project spearheaded by Schenectady filmmaker and mentor Prince Sprauve, has received a $150,000 grant from the Schenectady Foundation.
The money will help fund T.B.U.’s latest effort: “Cradle,” a youth-made narrative feature film addressing adolescent pregnancy, as well as an original soundtrack, music videos, commercials, health-education forums and community-outreach programming focused on the issue. In addition, the project will yield a documentary film profiling local teen parents.
“It gets us off the ground and up and running, you know? It gives us a chance to prove to the community who we are. It gives our kids a platform to speak,” said Sprauve. “And it also speaks to change.”
The grant amount was announced in August without identifying the recipient, he said. Approximately $25,000 of the money has gone toward creating a new T.B.U. studio in donated space at Proctors, where a 1 p.m. event on Saturday will kick off the “Cradle” project with an announcement, a photo shoot and remarks by student musicians involved in the creation of the soundtrack.
An additional $10,000 grant was awarded by the Carlilian Foundation.
Told By Us is a new, nonprofit cousin – or “big brother,” in Sprauve’s words – of Revolution Studios, the media club at Schenectady High School where he and his students made “Fast Life,” a hard-hitting 2013 feature-length drama about teens struggling against poverty, abuse and other urban pressures.
The 12 students selected for the “Cradle” soundtrack – from 55 video submissions, followed by 31 live auditions — will head into the studio soon, possibly as early as next Saturday, Sprauve said. Auditions will then be held for the movie, which he aims to shoot between April and June of 2016.
A total of 17 artists are involved so far, among them “musical mentors from the community,” with most of the students ranging in age from 14 to 21. Older participants will help mentor the younger ones, he said.
Noting high teen-pregnancy rates in Schenectady, Sprauve said the “Cradle” project will also include classes in sexual health and professional development, appearances by media professionals and workshops on interviewing and other skills – such as “how to carry themselves, how to dress, how to promote themselves, how to get out there, how to get their name out there.”
The idea is to approach the Schenectady community with the voice of its own youth, raising awareness of teen pregnancy and advocating change from within. “We’re using the target audience to address the target audience – and that’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever seen, because the audience, the community, is more receptive,” Sprauve said.“We’re taking this thing to the whole next level. ‘Fast Life’ was just a snapshot,” he said, “of what we had to do.’”
This article was originally published at Times Union.