Teacher Professional Development in Filmmaking for the Classroom FAQ 


When is the training offered?

ANSWER: The training will be offered in 2021 in the following ways:

In-Person Workshop: Friday, October 8 & Saturday, October 8 from 9 am on both days.

Online Course: September 6-December 15 (or sooner if the teacher completes it faster). 

Stay tuned for more dates in 2022! 

How much does the training cost?

ANSWER: The training, regardless of in-person or online, is 100% free to Utah teachers. 

Is the training in person or virtual? Where is the training going to be held?

ANSWER: We offer the program in-person or virtual, depending on the learning needs of the teacher. 

For the in-person training October 8-9, 2021, will be held at the Salt Lake Community College South City Campus Center for Arts & Media, located at 1575 S State Street

Salt Lake City, UT 84115.

The online course will be hosted on the Teachable Learning Management System platform at no cost to the teacher. 

Stay tuned for more dates and locations in 2022!

What equipment will be needed for the training? Will equipment be provided?

ANSWER: Teachers need a laptop and smartphone, tablet, or camera with the ability to record film. Mac, Chromebooks, or PCs are all acceptable computer/laptop formats. 

Utah Film Center will provide additional equipment at no additional cost such as tripod stands, lighting, and microphone equipment. 

Who is teaching the training and what are their credentials?

ANSWER: Below is information for the Utah Film Center Media Education team that built the curriculum and will teach the programs:

Rick Wray

Founded in 1999 Spy Hop Productions and was Executive Director until 2010 after serving over 10,000 Utah youth with innovative audio, video and interactive programming. In 2003, Wray was the recipient of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Service to the Arts Award, and in 2010 was a Utah finalist for the Ernst & Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2006, Wray founded SHIFT (Spy Hop Institute for Teachers) teacher professional development program, now managed by Utah Film Center. In 2015, Spy Hop went on to win Michelle Obama’s National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs.

Julie Gale

Graduated in 2006 with an MFA in Theatre Arts from The University of Iowa. Julie also holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Texas State University-San Marcos.  Julie began her career in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at nonprofit arts organizations (Casa Mañana, Theatre Arlington, Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc.) as a K-12 art educator and community outreach coordinator, creating strong community partnerships and arts opportunities for thousands of students and families. In addition, she has served as an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Film at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth. Julie also managed several arts education and outreach programs for the College of Humanities while at Tarrant County College, serving over 15,000 students annually. Since relocating to Utah in 2016, Julie served as a Program Experience Manager at Western Governors University (WGU), where she led multiple projects improving the student experience at the university. She also led initiatives to advance equity and create an inclusive culture for students in the College of Health Professions in all 50 states. 

Danny Schmidt

Graduated in 2012 with an MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University. Danny works extensively for National Geographic, PBS, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and other TV and nonprofit entities. He currently is a freelance documentarian and Education Producer at the Utah Film Center, bringing his storytelling and filmmaking skills to students and teachers in Utah classrooms.

Fernando Lara

Fernando Lara is a Filmmaker from Salt Lake City, UT. He was born in Ecuador and moved to Utah in 2003. Fernando started his career in film making videos for YouTube and eventually founded his production company, Fill It In Productions in 2010. At the same time, he attended Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah to further his studies in film. In 2014, he received a Bachelor in Film and Media Arts and a Bachelor in Mass Communications. As a freelance filmmaker Fernando has worked with a variety of local companies, artists, and other clients to produce music videos, commercial content, short films, documentary films, and more. Fernando is also a Producer for the Utah Education Network and is the producer of the weekly show “Art Connection”. He also works alongside UEN’s Media team to produce UEN’s PDTV and UEN’s Homeroom podcast. In his time off Fernando spends time with his wife and kids and catching up on comic books from the local comic book shop.

Do I have to be an expert in film to take this course or to use it in my class?

ANSWER: Absolutely not! You can never have filmed a thing in your life, and be perfectly at home in our training. We teach you everything step-by-step to give you the tools and confidence to guide your students in the classroom! 

Are the workshops accessible? 

ANSWER: Yes! We select ADA compliant locations for our in-person training and use closed-captioning and have video transcripts on all our tools, resources, and videos used in the online course and supplemental program resources. 

Is this program open to all departments?

ANSWER: Yes! You do not need to be a film or media or arts teacher to benefit from this program. Our alumni are grades 4-6 generalists that teach all subjects, secondary language arts and history teachers, and even science teachers. The skills we teach to incorporate media, film, and digital storytelling in your classroom can apply across multiple disciplines. 

Is this program open to full schools (all faculty members)?

ANSWER: Yes! We have offered an abbreviated version of this program to full schools in the past, and can assist a school if interested. Please contact for more information or to make this request. 

Is the training geared towards elementary teachers? middle school or junior high teachers? high school teachers?

ANSWER: The curriculum is geared towards teachers that teach grades 4-12. 

Is there a certificate of completion awarded at the end of the training? 

ANSWER: Yes! We provide proof of completion in the form of a certificate and entry of your awarded credits/hours on the USBE/MIDAS system. 

Who can I contact with any questions?

ANSWER: You may contact our Media Education department at with any questions. 


How do I sign up for the training? Or How do I reserve my spot?

ANSWER: Teachers sign up on the Utah Film Center Teacher Professional Development website by clicking on the “Register Now” button. If you found our workshop/course on the USBE/MIDAS site, you still register on the Utah Film Center website. 


What professional development requirements for USBE does this training cover? Can I use this training for USBE professional development credit?

ANSWER: We offer 2 USBE Credits or 15 re-licensure hours, or credits toward Education Technology Endorsements and Film & Media Arts Endorsements. You select these endorsements at the time of your registration, and upon completion of the program, Utah Film Center processes your credits. 

Can this training count for CEU (continuing education)?

ANSWER: Although this program is geared toward Utah grades 4-12 teachers, individuals can take the course for continuing education purposes. 

I am a teacher in the APPEAL program, does this meet any requirements for my certificate?

ANSWER: Unfortunately, Utah Film Center’s teacher professional development does not meet any requirements for the APPEAL program. 


How does this training benefit student learning? What will my students gain from me going through this training? 

ANSWER: The Utah Film Center’s instructional strategies focus on using arts and technology-infused approaches to reinforce core content and cross-curricular instruction. The strategies are reinforced as integrated approaches, rather than add-on approaches, that promote teachers’ instruction of fine arts (specifically filmmaking and media arts), language arts, and their specific subject area content. A good portion of the course is spent having teachers link their own core content areas to the Utah Film Center’s instructional materials. 

Integrating filmmaking projects helps teachers meet the goal of reaching all students with varying learning styles and a broad range of abilities. The Utah Film Center’s curriculum guide is formally linked to the Utah Core Standards for English Language Arts, the Utah Core Media Arts Standards, the National Council of Teachers of English Standards (NCTE), and International Society for Technology in Education Standards for Students (ISTE-S) and Educators (ISTE-E) where we support teachers to continue to improve their practice by leveraging technology and collaborating on meaningful, authentic and relevant digital storytelling projects. 

Furthermore, the Utah Film Center’s curriculum satisfies the cross-curricular digital literacy requirement of the core and is in line with the knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits commonly associated with 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, analysis, interpretation, synthesizing information, creativity, artistry, curiosity, imagination, innovation, personal expression, perseverance, leadership, teamwork, oral and written communication and presenting.

What core curriculum standards does this training cover? 

ANSWER: This course covers the following Utah Core Standards:

  • Utah Elementary Fine Arts Standards (Grades 4-6): Strands Create, Perform, Respond, & Connect.
  • Utah Secondary Media Arts Standards (Grades 7 &): Strands Create, Produce, Respond, & Connect.
  • Utah Secondary Media Arts Standards Levels 1, 2 & 3; Strands Create, Present/Perform, Respond, & Connect. 
  • Utah Common Core Elementary ELA Standards: Reading Informational Text Standards 1-3 & 6-8; Writing Standards 1-9; Speaking and Listening Standards 1-6. 
  • Utah Common Core Secondary ELA Standards: Reading Informational Text Standards 1-3 & 6-10; Writing Standards 1-10; Speaking and Listening Standards 1-6.
  • Utah Core Standards for Secondary Library Media (Grades 6-12): Strand 3, Standard 1 & Strand 4, Standard 1. 
  • National Film Study Standards, Core Academic Content Standards 1-5. 
  • ISTE-S Standards 1–7.

I am a science/math/language arts/etc. teacher. How can I benefit from this professional development?

ANSWER: Participants will be trained in media literacy principles as consumers and media producers as they integrate storytelling principles and the filmmaking process to craft compelling digital stories. The technical aspect of the process will prove advantageous in a multitude of workforce environments.

Media arts, digital storytelling, and filmmaking engage students in project-based learning through a flexible process to meet needs for diverse learners. For example, the pacing of student work and depth of content can be varied; the use of imagery can stand alone to convey meaning; and storyboards (graphic organizers) are used to outline content. The filmmaking projects are designed to allow teachers to address needs for learners of varying abilities. Furthermore, as teachers plan implementation of projects, they’ll ensure students have access to content with varying levels of text. 

The Utah Film Center instructional model is grounded in research-based practices and constructivist theory. There is evidence that shows the utility of a multimodal instructional approach to meeting the needs of a diverse classroom. The Utah Film Center professional development model provides participants with skills to teach important concepts through a process combining multiple modes, including images, sound, and text. This process learned at the Utah Film Center’s training involves use of graphic organizers and visuals, noted by the Alliance of Excellent Education as a key strategy for teaching English Language Learners (ELL). James Catterall’s (2009) Doing Well and Doing Good By Doing Art National Educational Longitudinal Survey ( found significant advantages for arts-engaged low-SES students in college going, college grades and types of employment, e.g. jobs with a future– and strong advantages in volunteerism and political participation, and that low-income and ELL students do better in arts-rich versus arts-poor schools. It is expected that the inherent strength in filmmaking’s ability to convey meaning through images, along with its capacity to motivate students, will continue to benefit a multitude of diverse learners and students from diverse backgrounds.


What online resources can enhance what I learn at this training?

ANSWER: All teachers receive a digital copy of our curriculum guide, lesson plans, videos, tools, resources, and worksheets for life. We also provide teachers with access to a site that provides ongoing updates of resources. 

What support is offered for teachers after this training? 

ANSWER: As an alumni of the program, you can always connect with Utah Film Center instructors to ask questions and receive support. Utah Film Center will also host periodical sessions to build skills every academic year. 

Are there networking opportunities with other teachers and professionals during and after the course? 

ANSWER: Yes! Utah Film Center will launch an online community after the completion of this program for teachers to network, share ideas, and connect with each other. More information to come! 

Is there mentoring available after taking this course?

ANSWER: Yes! If you need support in the classroom or mentoring after the program, Utah Film Center will provide you with ongoing support. All you have to do is ask! 

Are there sample lesson plans available after taking this course?

ANSWER: Yes! We give the teacher robust lesson plans with all the worksheets, tools, and resources you will need. It is all thought of for you! 

What are some examples of projects students created after teachers have taken this course?

ANSWER: Here is an example of student work after teachers completed our Teacher Professional Development program. You can view the video here

Are there ways to share my student’s work and my lessons with other teachers? 

ANSWER: Yes! We partnered with The Wonderment to have a safe space for teachers to share their student work and lessons with other teachers in Utah. More information can be found on our website: [ADD RELEVANT INFO]

Skip to content