The Summer CHA Programs in Documentary Filmmaking, Interdisciplinary Design and Screenwriting

students with instructor walking downtown DePaul/CHA Programs Highlight Video

DePaul/CHA Programs Highlight Video 

instructor with student viewing a handheld video camera

NBC Chicago, Making a Difference 

Chaz Ebert greeting students

Chaz Ebert inspires young filmmakers in the SCA/CHA Documentary Filmmaking Program 


Program Details

The Documentary, Interdisciplinary Design, and Screenwriting Programs are six-week intensives designed for Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) teens participating in One Summer Chicago. This year’s programs will be held at DePaul University’s Loop Campus from June 24th – August 2nd.

CDM is looking to hire a graduate Student Assistant Program Administrator as well as several Graduate Student Mentors with skills in one of the following areas: documentary filmmaking, interdisciplinary design, or screenwriting.

Deadline to Apply: Sunday, May 12th, 2019

Role of Student Mentor and Student Assistant Program Administrator

Each program for CHA teens is designed to be a transformative experience for participants and student mentors. The role of the student mentor includes: participating in interviews and orientation; attending training workshops; being present all day, every day throughout the program; supervising lunch at DePaul Center and on location; fostering leadership qualities through team-building and conflict resolution exercises; and building self-esteem and self-agency through the vehicle of socially conscious storytelling in a documentary, interdisciplinary design, or screenwriting format.

Documentary Production

group photo of students

The School of Cinematic Arts six-week intensive Documentary Filmmaking Program prepares CHA teens to become future filmmakers in documentary production. The program introduces students to basic theory, aesthetic, and technical skills required to create a documentary.

The intensive will create a collaborative environment in a university setting where Chicago-area teenaged females learn valuable media skills (film/video) that provide a voice for social issues concerning them most. The program will demonstrate how young women can employ media in positive ways and usher in a group of future female and student leaders who understand (and advocate for) the challenges young women face.

CHA high school students, guided by School of Cinematic Arts faculty and graduate student mentors, are immersed in pre-preproduction, production, and post-production with the goal of creating four distinct documentaries.

Interdisciplinary Design

The School of Design six-week intensive Interdisciplinary Design Program prepares CHA teens to become future creators of experiential media. The program introduces students to basic theory, aesthetic, and technical skills required to create and deploy interactive experiences to share with others. The intensive facilitates ways for youth to express their voice through a tour of tools and media and process that result in interactive experiences.

The exploration of design tools will include, but is not be limited to, journaling, interactive fiction, digital painting, digital audio, 2D animation, and bringing them all together in graphic design and game experiences. The program will provide CHA teens with an open-source creator’s toolbox composed of various applications and tools that can be run from a flash drive on any computer a participant can access. Workshops will focus on learning various digital tools that are easily available to participants of any income.

Guided by School of Design faculty and graduate student mentors, CHA teens will explore various processes that reveal their creative personality, how and where it is strongest, and how to use that to drive a final presentation/creation that will be shared with their community. Together, they will explore various locations and environments and ways of expressing the experiences of those environments via our digital media and interaction tools. Participants will audit their communities for issues they can address and explore ways of making these issues accessible and experience-able by others.


The School of Cinematic Arts six-week Screenwriting Program provides CHA teens the skills to write screenplays designed for television or digital streaming platforms. Through a series of lectures and discussions, participants will be introduced to the formal art of screenwriting. They will apply their knowledge in crafting two short screenplays that will be workshopped over the course of the intensive.

The topics covered include screenplay format, visual writing style, scene craft, story structure, character development, and dialogue. Supported by accomplished filmmakers and graduate student mentors, CHA teens will workshop a group screenplay written in teams of four or five as well as an individual original short screenplay. Throughout the program, participants will screen a variety of curated short films with social themes relevant to youth for story analysis and discussion.

For additional questions email

Faculty Bios

Michael X. Flores

Michael Flores

Principle Investigator/Program Administrator

Michael worked as an assistant editor on Tamra Davis’s documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (2010), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; on Lisa Leeman’s documentary One Lucky Elephant (2010), which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival; and on Bess Kargman’s documentary First Position (2011), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. He then edited Nick Broomfield’s documentary Sarah Palin: You Betcha! (2011), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; Terri Hanauer’s narrative feature Sweet Talk (2012); Lisa and Laura Wilson’s documentary Last Will. & Testament(2012), which was executive produced by Roland Emmerich; and Kimberly Bautista’s documentary Justice for My Sister (2012), which won Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. He also worked on Tommy O'Haver's music video for Matthew Dear; on Eddie Alcazar’s documentary Tapia (2013), which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival; and on Neil Berkeley’s documentary Harmontown (2014), which premiered at South By Southwest.

Contact Michael


Liliane Calfee

Lilian Calfee

Program Director

Founder of Soleil Media, Liliane Calfee has crafted storytelling campaigns via film and photography for over a decade. In 2015, she accepted a faculty position at DePaul. The CHA program in documentary filmmaking was designed based on her experience successfully employing digital media to raise awareness on important issues affecting underserved populations and her conviction that a gender approach to community development is essential to creating lasting change. This viewpoint was cultivated through years of working in regions as diverse as the immigrant rich projects of Paris, the crowded city of Dakar, Senegal, and small rural villages of Eastern Kenya.

Contact Liliane


Documentary Filmmaking Program Faculty Mentors

James Choi

James Choi

James Choi is a prolific, award-winning filmmaker with over a decade of film industry experience in Los Angeles having worked in representation (Innovative Artists and The Firm), production (Sarkissian Productions, Rush Hour) and digital media ( Networks). As an independent producer, James has produced two feature films from first time directors that have premiered at South by Southwest. “Made in China” which won the Grand Jury Award for Best Film and distributed by IFC Films and “Saint Frances” which makes its world premiere at South by Southwest in 2019. James was selected as one of Newcity’s Film 50 – the leaders of Chicago’s film culture of 2018. Having been in the forefront of the micro independent film movement in the last decade, James has produced and directed numerous films that have screen widely all around the world, winning awards and receiving distribution. James has a deep passion for independent films and constantly working to break new ground in our digital age.

Contact James


John Psathas

John Psathas

John is an award-winning director and producer based in Chicago. His commercial work includes spots for Aussie, Heartgard, Sprite, Bacardi, Crest, and Sprint. He has produced and directed several short and feature length films that have screened at festivals internationally, including his award-winning film, MILWAUKEE, which was a regional finalist for the Student Academy Awards and a selection at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, the Chicago Latino Film Festival, the Salt Lake City Film Festival, the Downtown Film Festival - Los Angeles, the Carmel Art and Film Festival and Court Métrage at the Festival de Cannes. At DePaul, John has been a producer or production manager on six Project Bluelight films, as well as writing and directing the latest, BERNADETTE. Currently in post-production, BERNADETTE, a feature length, period piece, coming of age comedy set for release in 2018.

Contact John


Interdisciplinary Design Program Faculty Mentor

Allen Turner

Allen Turner

A game designer, storyteller, artist, dancer, and author of Black/Lakota/Irish descent, Allen Turner believes in the power of play and story as fundamental, powerful medicines which shape our sense of self. After working in the video game industry, and freelance storytelling, for over 15 years, Allen focused his design, storytelling, and cultural experience to create, and publish a table-top RPG called “Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game.” which pulls from the myths and folklore of indigenous and tribal peoples from all over the world, while exploring allegorical battles with depression, solitude, identity, and erasure. He has continued to explore the play conversations initiated in Ehdrigohr on his blog via fiction, musings and co-creating a new personal project, “Arboretum Imaginarium.” Currently, Allen teaches game design at DePaul University, as faculty for the School of Design, as well as using design concepts as a tool for examining personal narratives and empowerment with local urban youth.

Contact Allen


Screenwriting Program Faculty Mentor

Patrick Wimp

Patrick Wimp

Patrick has written and produced films, commercials, and TV series all over the world. He is a co-founder and owner of Digital Hydra, an Emmy award-winning production company that has crafted creative content for a variety of companies including Facebook, HBO, McDonald's, Nike, and Netflix. His work has screened at the Chicago International TV Festival, New York Television Festival, Cannes International Short Film Corner, and others. Pat was named Best Writer at SeriesFest Season 3 and Best of Fest at the 2017 International Television Festival as writer and co-creator of the indie TV series "Public Housing Unit." Pat's work focuses on creating emotionally impactful, commercially viable stories built around authentic and diverse characters.

Contact Patrick


CHA Summer Youth Program Graduate Student Mentor/Student Assistant Program Administrator Application

Chicago Housing Authority logo

The Documentary, Interdisciplinary Design, and Screenwriting Programs are six week intensives designed for Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) teens participating in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s One Summer Chicago. This year’s intensive will be held at DePaul University’s Loop Campus from June 24th – August 2nd.

CDM is looking to hire a graduate Student Assistant Program Administrator as well as several Graduate Student Mentors with skills in one of the following areas: documentary filmmaking, interdisciplinary design, or screenwriting.

Applicants must be currently enrolled in one of the following graduate CDM programs: MFA Documentary, MFA Film and Television (Cinema), MFA Game Design, MFA Screenwriting, MS Experience Design, MS Film and Television (Cinema Production), or MS Game Programming.

Specific skills required for each of the positions can be found below.

Applicant must be available for all days and times of the program schedule.

Program Schedule

*Applicant Must Be Available for All Program Days*
Program hours are 9:30 am – 3:30 pm.

  • Week 1:Mon, June 24 – Thurs, June 27
  • Week 2:Mon, July 1 – Wed, July 3 (off on 4th of July)
  • Week 3:Mon, July 8 – Thurs, July 11
  • Week 4:Mon, July 15 – Thurs, July 18
  • Week 5:Mon, July 22 – Thurs, July 25
  • Week 6:Mon, July 29 – Fri, Aug 2

Required Skills

Documentary Production Graduate Student Mentor
Student mentors should have working knowledge/competencies in of all aspects of production including: pre-production, production (camera), and post-production (editing software).

Interdisciplinary Design Graduate Student Mentor
Student mentors should be self-starters who are comfortable working with and tutoring groups of other students. Candidates should be proficient with either art and design tools (Photoshop, Gimp, Illustrator, etc.) OR game programming (Unity C# or Gamemaker GML).

Screenwriting Graduate Student Mentor
Student mentors should have a strong handle on the craft of screenwriting. They should be comfortable working within a group to provide guidance and ensure projects are completed on time.

Student Assistant Program Administrator
This position requires strong organizational skills and production knowledge. The student assistant program administrator will work directly with the program director to support the three CHA programs in a variety of logistical capacities including updating rosters, preparing production binders and supplies, setting up fieldtrips, submitting expenses, and coordinating graduation day activities.

For more information about the Student Assistant Program Administrator position, contact: Michael Flores, Program Administrator, CDM:


Student mentors and assistants will be paid $16.00 per hour and must be available all dates/times of the program.

For additional questions email

Applications for Summer 2019 are now closed.