“We are hoping that these films become the ‘appetizer’ to get people curious and then they can go for the ‘main course’ and dive in a bit further,” said Kate McKenzie, Transmedia Zone studio manager and project manager. “We hope that students in junior high or high school could use these films as part of a research project, and it might get them excited about imagining themselves as entrepreneurs, as well.”

The films, all less than three minutes long, are designed to be digital learning materials for students, and social-media friendly for the general public. “We’ve had feedback from educators, who are hungry for content that they can show their students, because they want to tell these stories,” said Richard Lachman. “Not just for a Black history curriculum, but to be part of a curriculum where students are doing something on a historical figure in general. Teachers have invited us to come to their schools, and our partners will be doing a number of events over the course of this year.”

The Ryerson Transmedia Zone and RTA School of Media’s RTA Productions initiative have been integral to the project, which is still ongoing. So far, six Transmedia Zone students have been involved in the digital media campaign strategy, audience engagement, social media content and live event installation. While eight RTA students have worked on all the motion graphics, video, photography, studio recording, music tracks, editing, sound effects, and more. Four recent grads have also worked on the project so far, including the senior producer and production coordinator.

Plans are in the works to premiere one of the five films in conjunction with the launch of the Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF).