When Stephanie and I created Reel Works in 2001 on the roof of a Brooklyn YMCA, we never quite imagined that we would one day find ourselves in Paris watching our teens on giant screens and being honored as one of the leading youth arts programs in the world. But last Tuesday, there we were in the Olympia Theater celebrating Vivendi Create Joy – a program that sponsors 30 amazing organizations in Europe, Africa, South America and the US. Vivendi, the French media and communications giant (Canal +, Universal Music Group, Blizzard Activision), has been a sponsor of Reel Works for three years and has just renewed their support for 2013. They help fund Reel Works Productions and are the lead sponsor of Reel Works with Avan Jogia, our TV series on NYC-Life.
This week, they celebrated 5 years of Create Joy and invited Reel Works to Paris as VIP guests. So far we have met inspiring groups in France, the UK, Burkina Faso and Brazil that use media, music and technology to bring joy to disadvantaged young people. For the event this week, Reel Works youth producers filmed each other answering the question: “What does Joy mean to you?” On stage, Vivendi producers paired Reel Works teens with Paris youth on another other screen answering the same question. The effect was of teens engaged in a cross-cultural dialog about the joy of creating and sharing and expressing themselves. It really worked! And we have since begun discussions with Vivendi about creating a collaborative project between young filmmakers in Paris and Brooklyn… stay tuned!