- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 11, 2011

Parks and recreation officials in Prince George’s County are rethinking the name of a summer youth program aimed at teaching teens video-production skills. The program’s title? “We Shoot Film, Not People.”

With more than 50 homicides not even six months into the year, the county is trending toward a three-year high in killings and is outpacing the District of Columbia, which recorded 48 homicides through Friday.

And with several recent shootings in the Capitol Heights area near the Oakcrest Community Center where the youth program is scheduled to be held, an official within the agency responsible for the program acknowledged the title could be construed as insensitive and said information was distributed before it was checked by the marketing department.

“The flier went out very prematurely before being approved by Park and Planning,” said Stewart Seal, an acting division chief with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation. “This one, unfortunately, the title should have been changed before it went out.”

The name of the program, which is designed to teach video production skills to teens ages 13-17 during a five-week course, was provided by the film producer contracted to run the program, Mr. Seal said.

The D.C.-based film producer, Marvin Fields, defended the contentiously named summer program.

“I understand it’s controversial, but we need shock and awe. We need to get our kids’ attention,” Mr. Fields said. “This shows the kids a way to take aggression out artistically instead of with violence.”

The summer class will give young aspiring film makers the chance to write scripts, and shoot and edit video while developing a public service announcement as their class project.

“Washington, D.C. is the fourth largest film market in the country and there are a lot of positions in doing film that a lot of youth aren’t trained to do,” Mr. Fields said. “This gives them opportunities for making money instead of making trouble.”

No word yet from Park and Planning on a new title for the program.

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