FOCUS – Student Program

For over 9 years, education has been a key component of the San Diego Film Festival – we’re pleased to introduce our newest program:

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To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this commitment to young people, SDFF will launch FOCUS, a new range of ongoing programs to engage students and schools with dynamic film programs, teacher training, in-school workshops with artists, and collaborative residencies.

FOCUS on Career

• 500 students and teachers will be invited to the Festival itself for a daylong program.
• Events will include a film screening followed by a Q&A with filmmakers as well as panels on multimedia skills including screenwriting, editing, acting, and crowdfunding.
• Lunch will be provided and students will be encouraged to meet representatives from local colleges and universities with film or media departments.

FOCUS on Film

• Schools that participate in the Festival will be among the very first to be visited by FOCUS Teaching Artists for a social action workshop and film screening in their school or classroom.
• Students will view a socially conscious short film or documentary and engage in a participatory workshop that will include a conversation with the filmmaker or artist.

FOCUS on Learning

• During the 2014-15 academic year, SDFF is committed to providing professional development workshops for local teachers and administrators.
• Each workshop will explore methods of incorporating media and technology into classroom instruction, mindful of technical limitations, the needs of students, and the new Common Core Standards.

FOCUS on Collaboration

• Finally, select schools will participate in a multi-workshop residency with Teaching Artists.
• Students will learn the basic tools of filmmaking – from pitching and screenwriting to post-production.
• Collaborating with SDFF Staff, students will create socially conscious documentary or narrative short films about individuals or ideas that they see as relevant or unique to their community. FOCUS is seeking partner schools for its inaugural year, as well as sponsors and donors to support this ambitious, exceptional program. Please email for more information. 


• Annual festival attracting an anticipated 20,000 patrons in 2014 for feature, documentary and short films from over 55 countries.
• Premier showcase for films and filmmakers, including Judd Apatow, 12 Years a Slave, Silver Linings Playbook and many more.
• SDFF 2013 saw more than 100 journalists write more than 175 articles or reviews for a total of more than 328 million digital impressions during the month of the festival.
• SDFF’s new leadership has lead to 400% growth in two years, and a commitment to the development of a robust, local film industry.
• SDFF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.


All FOCUS programming is developed by Blake McCarty and an Advisory Board of educators, administrators and artists. McCarty’s past collaborators include Tribeca Film Festival, Guggenheim Museum, New Museum, New Victory Theater, Invisible Children, and La Jolla Playhouse.