Community Engagement through Filmmaking

A diverse group of Harvard students and alumni buzzed with excitment as they prepared to premiere their short films to a crowd at the Ash Center on Wednesday, May 9. Three months earlier this group, the videos’ creators, had little to no filmmaking skills.

During the spring 2018 semester, a new study group, led by Cecily Tyler, independent film and documentary maker, HKS MC/MPA ’16; and hosted by the Ash Center and the HKS Communications Program, taught Harvard community members how to create compelling three to five minute videos in a “guerrilla-style” format. Through a series of six workshops, participants developed video production and storytelling skills.

No prior video editing experience was required and Tyler encouraged students to use the technology available to them, like smartphones and free video editing software. Though workshops often focused on developing technical filming and editing skills, Tyler also sparked discussions about how videographic essays and short films can effect social change and how video can be a tool for connection.

The films created, including the below, covered a range of topics, from diversity at Harvard Kennedy School to the benefits of an employee-owned business model. Following the premiere, the films are being used to raise awareness, educate, and engage various communities.

Education Reform


Resistance School


Walmart versus Publix


Waking Up HKS