Nonprofit Provides Professional Media Arts Training to Montana Students


HELENA – An opportunity exists for every teenager in Montana, many of whom may never have heard of, it’s called Maps Media Institute. It is a nonprofit organization located in Hamilton, MT, but its services are statewide.

MAPS’s goal is to empower Montana’s next generation through professional media arts education. This is done through education mentors who teach professional courses in design, film, music and technology. The courses take place online and in person and are free for any student in 8e at 12e class.

Janna Williams, Director of Communications and Marketing for the MAPS Media Institute, says, “At MAPS, our professional media artists, instructors and mentors work with high school students across the state in a variety of free courses to help them create from concept to completion in media fields such as cinema. Once completed, we work very hard to help these important young voices be heard at state and national levels. “

One of those films was directed by a teenager from East Helena. The film titled “East” won the 2019 Student Production Award for the Northwest Section of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Austin Giarde directed the film and said, “The biggest part of the inspiration for the film was that we were all artists in a small town, we felt like we didn’t have as many voices as the people in a big city or whatever, but I think that’s how it goes.

Those voices carried far as the 2019 film titled “East” not only won a national award, but it will also appear on Montana PBS.

Austin says, East Helena “I think compared to Helena doesn’t have that much shine, so that was sort of one of the biggest inspirations.”

As every director can attest, the movie came with challenges, but perhaps not so surprisingly in Montana.

Austin added, “At the time, it was a pretty stressful production because of the snow. There is a scene where there is no snow on the ground and then the next scene where there is a lot of snow on the ground.

It took about four months, but once the teen crew finished filming, they were able to start editing.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not interfere with the filming of East, but it did impact the awards ceremony.

Giarde says, “We were invited to a film festival in Portland, so the film crew, we saved a lot of money to go, and then the day we got there was March 13th.e, what everyone knows is the day the pandemic really hit and things started to shut down, so unfortunately it was called off. “

Austin plans to go to Bozeman to study some art form, be it music or film, he says he just wants to be creative.

To learn more about Maps Media Institute, click here.


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