By MICHAEL BUTLER, Miami Herald
MIAMI (AP) — When Creative Media Group founder Maria Taylor drove through Miami’s Bay Vista Park neighborhood in search of a single-family home to serve as a hub for her nonprofit arts business, she didn’t never expected a house made from breathtaking shipping containers.
“I saw their house and I was like, ‘What is this?’ The sun was shining and I was walking around and I got out of my car and started walking towards their house,” Taylor said.
She saw architects Marcelo Ertorteguy and Sara Valente’s house built from weatherproof steel shipping containers and imagined the potential for a different kind of micro-campus to teach underprivileged youth about film production and the arts. creative. She struck up a conversation with Ertorteguy, who had designed shipping container architecture for six of his 10 years in New York alongside Valente, his partner and co-founder of creative firm Stereotank.
Creative Media will invest $60,000 in the development of its Upper East Side Miami arts campus built with shipping containers on open land. Plans call for an opening in July. In conversations with local real estate agents, Taylor often heard much higher prices of nearly $500,000 to buy a single-family home to convert into space that would meet the needs of his film production training business.
Rather than buying a house and gutting the walls to create a soundstage, Taylor and Ertorteguy devised a concept that features four shipping containers as interior studio spaces in a U-shaped formation that would serve as a courtyard. The space in one of the containers could be used for a video editing suite. After purchasing the containers used to build the campus, Taylor and her husband, Tony Delerme, will become owners of the land.
The campus opening will coincide with Miami-Dade County’s college summer and allow students 15 and older to participate in programming at no cost to them or their families through grants. They don’t build the campus or work with potential filmmakers to make a profit.
Taylor and Delerme believe that teaching young people careers in film and production will give them the skills they need to create film projects. Those who are at least 18 years old will then be able to work alongside them on projects for clients of Crashing Waves Pictures, their film production company, or work alone on other television or film productions.
Creative Media recently partnered with Genesis Hopeful Haven, a foster care organization in Homestead, and taught a five-week workshop on cinematography sprinkled with life skills. The aim of the workshop was for young people to be comfortable on set and leave with skills that would enable them to work on professional films.
Teenagers from Cutler Bay to Miami Gardens learned how to produce movies with their smartphones like filmmaker Matthew Cherry does, and how to organize a production. Cherry, a former professional soccer player, won an Oscar in 2020 for producing an animated short called “Hair Love.”
The young leader of Creative Media, Julien Pierre-Louis, 18, is one of the teenagers who learned cinema thanks to the program of several weeks. Pierre-Louis, a freshman at Robert Morgan Technical College, was homeless after his father left the family when he was 16. As a young person in the foster care system, he said the program showed him career opportunities as a creative professional and provided him with personal support.
“I joined the program and at first I wasn’t really into it, but when I started doing it I saw that it could help me with music,” he said. about his other interest. “I could do music videos, music production and everything. We had the idea to make a short film which is now on YouTube, and we had a big place where we could shoot a film. Since then I keep in contact with them and now I’m here to try to do so.
Young Pierre-Louis frontman Giovanni Carter, 18, a student at My Life My Power International Preparatory Academy, said working with Creative Media was fun and he appreciated Taylor and Delerme’s commitment to teaching him Arts.
While Taylor sees black directors like Ava DuVernay and Spike Lee as inspirations on a national level, she discovered in her work as a filmmaker in Miami that black and brown people don’t use cameras or work behind the scenes as much. as their race and ethnicity. counterparts.
“We have the ability and are capable, but we don’t have access to it,” Taylor said. “Partnering with underserved youth is important to give them access that we didn’t have. We realized in the workshop that our young men were brilliant, but they couldn’t afford $4,000 Sony cameras.
Taylor and Delerme started Crashing Waves Pictures in 2011, after Taylor initially worked as an actress and reached a point in her career where she wanted to produce her own content and be more hands-on with filmmaking.
In 2020, when the couple moved to Miami from New York, the effect of the coronavirus pandemic made them want to serve people in the community. They realized that every film production they worked on provided people with many opportunities to learn and gain professional experience. The team launched Creative Media Group in January 2021. Seven months later, Creative Media board members Vanessa Quarentello and Michelle St. Jules joined the Taylor and Delerme team.
Konstatina Kontaxis is a professor and president of the School of Communication at the University of Miami. She is also an advocate for young people from diverse backgrounds to use free tools like TikTok to hone their skills in film editing and content creation.
“TikTok and other social media platforms have generated a paradigm shift allowing young creators from all walks of life to distribute creative material in ways that weren’t possible even 10 years ago,” Kontaxis said.
“With simple equipment, young creators can now reach millions of views – a number that was once reserved for mass studio distribution. Not only have these platforms amplified diverse young voices, they have empowered young creators and their viewers to generate creative content.
Creating a central creative campus that could be better for the environment is important to Taylor. She learned from Ertorteguy and her own research that shipping containers can enable sustainable and less expensive construction. They can be stacked up to seven levels high and modified, cut and adapted for reuse. Logistically, they are easier to transport by disassembly, rather than the demolition that occurs with most construction projects.
Ertorteguy sees the value of using weatherproof steel shipping containers because of their local availability and durability. Weather resistant steel allows containers to withstand transportation across seas in bad weather due to its combination of steel alloys.
“The shipping container is the perfect object,” Ertorteguy said, describing his family’s experimental home in Miami. “A lot of them are not used. They come from China, deliver goods and sit here in ports. They don’t come back. Many people buy them for storage.
Ertorteguy said the containers used for his house came from container parks near Medley. After developing a relationship with the workers there, he learned that the containers usually come from PortMiami and the local trucking industry.
The containers’ versatility bodes well for Taylor’s plans to expand and further expand the Creative Media hub after it opens on the Upper East Side.
As development of the creative campus continues, Taylor hopes the site’s proximity to Miami’s Wynwood arts district can provide young people like Pierre-Louis and Carter with an inspiring place to explore artistic careers that might otherwise be inaccessible.
Having grown professionally and personally during his work with Creative Media, Carter is optimistic about his future and that of the nonprofit.
“I can’t wait to see where it goes,” he said.
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