HFPA Capital Funding Supports the Production Studio with Purpose

Kids In The Spotlight (KITS) has been an annual awardee of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) since 2016, enjoying the company of such fellow awardees as OutFest, Women in Film, and NewFilmmakers LA.

A capital grant awarded to KITS by HFPA supported construction costs for the Production Studio with Purpose media arts workforce development center serving youth impacted by the foster and carceral systems.

Young filmmakers served by KITS gain access to an array of transformative media arts education and vocational training. These social-emotional learning experiences help system- impacted youth heal and grow from trauma through the power of storytelling and filmmaking, and introduce them to mentoring, intensive case management services (ICMS), and workforce development opportunities.

In December 2022, after a multi-year search, KITS secured a 5,300-square-foot lease-to-own studio and office property in Van Nuys. In 2023, KITS will extend this transformative media arts education experience through direct hiring at the Production Studio with Purpose, which will provide over 800 paid media arts work opportunities a year for transitional age youth 18-24.

While providing transitional age youth, ages 18-24, with immediate access to productive jobs in the entertainment industry, the studio is also a social enterprise creating financial sustainability for KITS. Rising demand for media content means that independent production studios are also in demand; the studio will lease some 15 production sets, with built-in KITS Young Professionals as crew members, for independent film and television productions and casting.

A fast-paced buildout is underway to make the space immediately rentable when the doors open in March 2023.

In order to open the studio doors as quickly as possible, and to serve transitional age youth even during the buildout phase, KITS contracted with Carlos, Nelcit, Joseph, and London—four alumni experienced in the building trades—to assist with construction for the buildout. Funding from HFPA underwrote the materials and labor for this portion of the interior buildout.

KITS Young Professionals will use the production studio not only to access paid work opportunities, but also to access independent project tools such as film production space and the studio’s Legacy AV Library as well as media arts classes, workshops, and peer-to-peer supports.

Placemaking, however, is the ultimate impact of the Production Studio with Purpose. It is hard to overstate, for young people harmed by ongoing displacement, the value of having a place to belong.