Guam - "This place helps you, it helps you realize that you have all these privileges out there and for you to come in here because you are acting stupid or messing up in the community, they take it away," said Jennifer, a 17-year-old client at the Department of Youth Affairs.
"This is a good skill because if you are going to be a good filmmaker or you have something you want someone to invest in, you've got to say, 'This is who I am, this is what it's about, they are very important life skills to have'," said Los Angeles-based filmmaker Alex Munoz, who was born and raised on Guam. He founded the Films by Youth Inside program in 2003, which teaches youth offenders the art of filmmaking.
"It talks about real life situations so is it fiction or non-fiction? What is non-fiction? Real, true," he said. Munoz says scripting out your real life story on paper and then transforming it into film is cathartic for the at risk youth in the program. And that looking at the self exposed creates a deeper level of understanding.
Munoz teamed up with local filmmakers like Ben Salas - an FYI instructor for the DYA project. "It's one thing to experience it yourself, it's another thing to actually see that transformation in other young people," he said.
Studies conducted by the rand corporation found that 44% of individuals who participate in this program have a lower recidivism rate. "It builds your confidence, it builds my confidence. Ok, I can do this. I was motivated. I was inspired. There's also so much fun you can have with it," he said
Several films that Munoz oversaw for the DYA project last fall were selected for the 2010 Asian Pacific Film Festival, kicking off May 1 in Los Angeles. KUAM News will also broadcast the films during Law Week. "The storyline reflected students own travails, circumstances and temptations, 'you stole it'," said Munoz.
In an effort to organically grow the local film industry on Guam - Munoz has plans to return to Guam at the end of the summer and film a documentary.