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Emerging Programmer Apprenticeship

"I think this program is unique in our country. It is a very rare opportunity for kids to get involved in the REAL film world. We had real responsibilities, like introducing films, and hosting Q&A sessions, and we became comfortable talking about films with people other than our peers." - Peter Daood, The Independent School

The Program

In 2017, TFA will offer it's 5th year of the Emerging Programmer Apprenticeship Program, offering Wichita area students a unique opportunity to learn about the cinematic arts.

The EPA Program provides selected students a comprehensive look at filmmaking, affording young people the opportunity to connect with industry professionals across all facets of the industry, and preparing them for a career in the international medium of visual storytelling.

Participants included students from Allison Traditional Magnet School, Trinity Academy, The Independent School, Rose Hill High School, Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, Wichita Collegiate School, Brooks Middle School, Wichita Southeast High School, Wichita East High School, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Wichita Northwest High School.

The Requirements

To qualify for the Emerging Filmmaker Apprenticeship, you must be a Wichita-area (within driving distance) middle or high school student, aged 12-18. Being an EPA requires a substantial commitment (approximately 75 hours which ecompasses all aspects of the program,) and students will be responsible for completing a certain percentage of hours. There is no cost to participate.

The Curriculum

As a member of the Tallgrass Film Festival Emerging Programmer Apprenticeship Team you will influence whether a film makes it into the festival. Specifically, you will play an integral role in programming the Joel Fein Emerging Filmmaker Program (films made by those 18 and younger), as well as Smallgrass, the festival’s family-friendly program, and in-school festival screenings. You will also deliberate on the Best Emerging Filmmaker Short Film Awards.

In addition, the 2017 EPA Program will include the following educational components:

  • Essential Screening Series of classic films – with Tallgrass Programming Director Nick Pope.
  • Filmmaking Workshops Series – with local and visiting filmmakers, focusing on film criticism, local and national resources and filmmaking techniques.
  • Hands-on Filmmaking Experience – Create a group film in the ​Down to the Wire 24 HR Film Race (June 16-18) as part of the EPA Team
  • Field Trips – which may include the Orpheum Theatre’s projection booth, the Kansas Underground Salt Mine and Mindfire Academy.
  • Instruction and Mentorship from Tallgrass Programmers including film introductions and filmmaker Q&A tutorials.
  • Opportunity to participate in the 2017 Tallgrass FIlm Festival and Smallgrass: TFA’s family friendly event at Exploration Place.
  • Exclusive interactions with the Tallgrass Filmmaker Advisory Board members.

Being an EPA requires a substantial commitment (approximately 100 hours in around 6 months). Please review the following responsibilities, details and proposed schedule provided:

Apprenticeship Responsibilities

  • Attend Essential Classic Film Screening Series.
  • Attend the group screening sessions, meetings, workshops, filmmaking labs and field trips. (See schedule below.)
  • Watch and review high school films available for online screening.
  • Complete (at least 100) reviews of short and feature films, with helpful and thoughtful comments.
  • Participa​ te in the ​Down to​ the Wire ​24 HR Film Race (June 16-18) as part of the EPA Film Team.
  • Regularly check email and respond to inquiries in a timely manner.
  • Keep screening copies of films confidential!
  • Share information about TFA events and opportunities on social media and on campus.
  • Attend the Tallgrass Film Festival, October 18-22, 2017.
  • Volunteer a minimum of 12 hours for the Festival. These hours can be split between pre-fest, festival and post-fest work.
  • Make a short presentation on an aspect of filmmaking or​ ​the film industry.

In return, EPAs get the chance to view the films they helped select, at the Festival, October 18-22, 2017. You will receive an EPA Pass for the festival, plus one TALLPass for a parent or guardian. In some circumstances, this program may be considered for volunteer hours (based on your school’s requirements.) Please bring in any forms/paperwork and discuss with Tallgrass Staff.

2017 EPA Calendar By Month

May 2017​: The Orientation Meeting is scheduled for ​Saturday May 20, 2017​. A program schedule will be distributed at the orientation which will include dates for the screening, speaker, workshop and field trip series which will take place between May and October 2017 including:

  • Essential Screening Series, lead by Programming Director, Nick Pope, to include 5 classic films that every film student should know, followed by a group discussion relating to film theory and the relationship to both film history and the context of it’s time.
  • Filmmaker, Film Criticism and History Workshops include hands-on tutorials lead by local and visiting filmmakers.
  • Field Trip series includes outings to historical theatres, production houses and other cinema-related attractions in the region.
  • Programmer’s Protocol includes a presentation by Senior Programmers and tips for conducting film introductions and Q&A’s by Director of Acquisitions, Shan Jabara.
  • EPAs will be made aware of upcoming TFA events and will be encouraged to attend.

May-August​: Under the guidance of the Programming Staff, EPAs will review film submissions and will be required to provide a critique using TFA’s online review site. In August,, EPAs will provide their recommendations for the Emerging Filmmaker Program at the Tallgrass Film Festival and deliberate the Best Emerging Filmmaker Award.

June: ​EPAs will participate as a team in the ​Down to the Wire 24 HR Film Race.

September​: EPAs will sign up to volunteer for the festival.


  • The EPA Program and its members will be introduced at the festival’s Opening Night Gala.
  • EPAs will volunteer at the festival.
  • EPAs will participate in Filmmaker Labs and Roundtable Discussions at the festival.
  • EPAs will participate in an in-depth conversation with visiting Tallgrass Filmmaker Advisory Board. (Board Members comprised of alumni filmmakers and other visiting guests).
  • EPAs will have the opportunity to introduce films and conduct Q&A’s.
  • With an EPA Pass, EPAs have access to all screenings and networking opportunities at the festival.

Post Fest​: EPAs will also give a short presentation on an aspect of filmmaking or the film industry.

Early 2018​: EPAs will have a chance to participate in Smallgrass: TFA’s family friendly event at Exploration Place.

2017 Application

Click here to dowload the fillable 2017 EPA Application. All applications must be:

  • Completed by April 15, 2017
  • Include letters of reference (Download template here)
  • E-mailed to Nick@tallgrassfilmfest.com

EPA Manifesto

Peter Daood, The Independent School, Class of 2019
"The EPA provides a creative outlet for me to work with other young, passionate filmmakers."
Kate Gondwe, Wichita Collegiate School, Class of 2017/Emerson College, Class of 2021
"I've been in love with the magic of cinema ever since I was a kid. Through the EPA Program, I was able to grow connections with other young, passionate filmmakers."
Mariah Hall, Andover Central High School, Class of 2016/Chapman University Film School, Class of 2020
"Thanks to the EPA Program, I have a tremendous head start in film school."
Andrew Kivett, Trinity Academy, Class of 2018

"The EPA has given me opportunities to meet other filmmakers and motivated me further to pursue my passion for film. I now have no doubt that film is what I want to do as a career."

Morgan Nesbitt, Wichita Southeast High School, Class of 2017
"The EPA Program, and Tallgrass as a whole, have given me the amazing opportunity to be around people who had the same dreams I have now, and show me it's a complete possibility to make them a reality."
Micah Streeter, Rose Hill High School

"The EPA Program has changed my life. People are always telling me how when I grow up, I'll make connections with other people in film. Being an EPA, I can say, "I'm doing that now!" The 14th annual Tallgrass Film Festival was the best weekend of my life."

Blaise Webster, The Independent School, Class of 2017/Friends University, Class of 2021
"The EPA program has given me the opportunity to meet filmmakers from all over the world and create relationships with who will undoubtedly be life long friends."