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Take a shot at Changing the World contest encourages student videos


Last updated 1/14/2013 at 4:44pm

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Steeltown Entertainment Project will launch of its third annual Take A Shot at Changing the World contest.

The event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m., at the Heinz History Center with a special screening of The People Speak. Tickets are free and open to the public, but space is limited so RSVP to to reserve seats.

This year’s third annual contest is giving away over $10,000 to middle school and high school students who make short videos about social change, from categories such as Pittsburgh Innovations, The People Speak, and Polio: Past and Present. This year also features special prizes for films about the environment or non-violence.

This year, Take A Shot will partner with Voices of a People’s History, which seeks to inspire a new generation of social activism. The documentary The People Speak, inspired by historian Howard Zinn, brings to life the stories of lesser known individuals and movements that built the United States, with performances by local and Hollywood talent, including Matt Damon, Bruce Springsteen, P!nk and others.

In May 2012, Steeltown Entertainment Project, in partnership with WQED Studios, produced an event staged at the Fred Rogers Studio and based on The People Speak, which Steeltown’s own Lisa Smith-Reed co-produced with Chris Moore (Good Will Hunting, American Pie) and Matt Damon. The gathering featured live readings and performances by local and Hollywood talent, including: Promised Land writers and actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski; Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada); and Oscar-winning actress Frances McDormand (Fargo).

Through Steeltown’s Take A Shot digital media competition, footage from this exciting event is now being edited and will be used to inspire middle school and high school students throughout Southwestern PA to make movies about social justice.

Take a Shot began in 2010 after Steeltown produced The Shot Felt ‘Round the World which told the story of Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh pulling together with a city to conquer what was once the most feared disease of the 20th Century—polio. Schools were given copies of the film and asked to make their own short movies connecting what happened locally with the development of the vaccine, to present day eradication efforts.

Take a Shot has since become a way for teens to use technology to educate peers, raise awareness about a variety of topics, and spur meaningful social change. Last year’s competition included filmmaking workshops, free screenings of locally produced films, and a video conference that connected over a dozen regional schools with renowned experts at the World Health Organization, the CDC, and youth in Pakistan and India.

Take a Shot has also engaged a variety of partners, including The Heinz History Center, Rotary, The Allegheny Intermediate Unit, The World Affairs Council, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Jefferson Awards and many others.

The contest runs from January 19 -May 1. All films will be eligible for the $1,000 fan favorite prize, which will be determined by a 10-day online voting period. Films can be up to five minutes long. For more information or to register a school, visit


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