Do you remember building paper airplanes with your friends — throwing them straight up into the air or across the room or into your friend’s airplane to see which one was the biggest?
That feeling of watching something you created from your imagination come to life the second you launch it into the air is irreplaceable. Re:Imagine Atl captures that exact feeling in every aspect of their agenda. Introducing teenagers to the endless possibilities of a career in film and media, this organization gives its students a piece of paper so that they can create an airplane and launch into the world.
Founder and director, Susanna Spiccia, shares her journey with the inception of this idea and where she’ll aim her paper airplane next.
Before creating this organization you worked in youth development. How did that inspire Re:Imagine Atl?
After working in low-income communities for several years I realized something was missing. It was collaboration. I didn’t understand how important partnership really was until I was invited to dinner by one of the families I helped. I declined. By saying yes, that meant I would take away food from a family that struggled to obtain it in the first place, right?
I learned that service was about collaboration not a one-sided relationship. This experience helped me realized that I wanted to create a space where people from all backgrounds could collaborate and feed off of each other’s ideas to create something powerful.
How did that realization lead to the name, Re:Imagine Atl?
My friend Julia and I joked about how cheesy it was to say, “imagine if…”
But I asked myself, “No, actually. Imagine what we could make if we really pushed our imagination.”
From that moment, I knew we needed to redefine imagination. We had to reimagine the possibilities of storytelling. Everyone consumes media. But when more than 50% of media created comes from the minds of people from a single demographic, you’re leaving out the stories and experiences of entire communities.
We want our kids to redefine what it means to use your imagination. That’s also the idea with our logo, the paper airplane. Kids make them and throw them in any direction they want. We want that idea, of power and control, to continue as students make their own content.
Of all the artistic mediums, why did you focus on film & media?
Everyone consumes it. It doesn’t matter your age, your race, or interests. Media is a unique and powerful way to share your story. But the lack of representation for several communities makes it difficult to do just that.
I tell my kids to “use the cool” because I want to make sure we push creativity and teach kids to keep audiences engaged and invested. When you watch a PSA, more often than not, most audiences zone out. If our kids can discover a way to share their ideas that keep audiences interested, we’ve done our job.
In what ways will Re:Imagine continue to impact Atlanta?
Eventually, the impact will be to call out the existing structures in media today. We live in a multi-ethnic city and we want to offer everyone an opportunity to learn, engage, and commit. We also want to partner with companies across the city to access talent that hasn’t been discovered yet. We visit schools all over the city and open up dialogue. We talk about the barriers to success and how we, as a community, can lessen those obstacles.
If you’re not in proximity of people who are different from you, you will not be challenged emotionally, artistically, or intellectually. Re:Imagine has already and will continue to connect kids from all walks of life. It’s the exposure to different cultures and ideas that pushes them to become critical thinkers, creators, and educators in our community.
What’s next for Re:Imagine Atl?
In the coming years, we will focus on three main goals:
- We will continue visiting high schools across the city to recruit students interested in content creation. We want to ensure that we are tapping into talent that hasn’t had an opportunity to flourish yet.
- We will also conduct more workshops in and out of school. These programs are meant to expose students to various topics regarding the industry. For example, one of the themes for a workshop next spring is, “how to build a production company with no money.” The idea is to expand kids’s minds by providing them unique perspectives of what success can look like in the industry.
- Our last mission is to launch our fellowship program. This 12-week, summer program aims to let fellows produce original content — they learn to direct, write, edit, film, etc. The program includes visits and networking opportunities with media companies in other cities like New York and LA. The final aspect, is to provide an internship opportunity for the fellows. Turner has committed to this experience and we are currently looking into other media companies to partner with us and our fellows.
The hope is to create a pathway to job opportunities within the industry. We not only want to give students to tools to succeed, we also want to provide a blueprint of endless possibilities.
If our readers are interested in getting involved, what can they do?
You can attend our summer or school-year programs to work alongside our students. Even if you don’t have the time to help out during our workshops, you can mentor a child. Share with them any knowledge you have about career or artistic development. Be a mentor and empower a kid.
Re:Imagine Atl is hosting a benefit party this week (Thursday, August 17th) to support a documentary the kids will be working on this fall. For more information and to buy your tickets, click here!
A special thanks to Susanna Spiccia for this incredible interview!