MAPS students win big at regional Emmy Awards
Gomez, Czelsi
/ Categories: Arts Education

MAPS students win big at regional Emmy Awards

Students from MAPS Media Institute won three High School Student Production Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter with “Browning Rising Voices” and “Art for Survival” tied in the Short Form Non-Fiction category and “Aisitsimsta/Imagination” taking top honors for Short Form Fiction. The awards were presented during the Northwest Regional Emmy® Awards Gala held June 8 at the Fremont Studios in Seattle.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) is a professional service organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of television and the promotion of creative leadership for artistic, educational and technical achievements within the television industry. NATAS membership consists of over 15,000 broadcast and media professionals represented in 19 regional chapters across the country.

The High School Student Production Award competition received a record number of entries this year from high schools across the chapter’s five-state region of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington. Industry professionals judged and critiqued the entries, which showcased a wide range of talent from these future broadcasters and media producers.

“Student work continues to impress the judges and the level of competitiveness significantly increases each year,” said Clare Ann Harff, MAPS executive director. “To have MAPS students win three awards is a tremendous honor and a testament to the next generation of Montana’s filmmakers. MAPS is proud to mentor these dynamic young artists and provide the creative opportunities and professional experiences to help bring their stories to life.”

MAPS, a free-of-charge media arts program based out of Hamilton in the Bitterroot Valley, has been serving students in grades 8-12 since 2004. Classes include filmmaking, graphic design, music production, new technologies and social entrepreneurship. In 2017, MAPS was one of the top 12 arts creative youth development programs in the U.S. to be honored with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. In recent years, MAPS has broadened its geographical scope to teach in other rural communities across Montana, including Browning, Harlem, Poplar, Helena, East Helena, Ronan and St. Ignatius.

Both “Browning Rising Voices” and “Art for Survival” were part of the MAPS Media Lab, the organization’s statewide educational outreach program directed by award-winning filmmaker Dru Carr.

“MAPS is so proud of the students who contributed their hard work and creative skills to these films,” said Carr. He noted that filmmakers from Browning High School were the production crew behind “Browning Rising Voices” and “Aisitsimsta/Imagination” and the teen artists from the Holter Museum in Helena were the crew for “Art for Survival.”

“We want to thank the Northwest Chapter of NATAS for the opportunity to showcase the powerful work MAPS students are producing,” he added. “It’s truly an honor to be a part of what they create.”

“Aisitsimsta/Imagination” is a narrative film created from start to finish in five days by Browning Middle and High school students as a part of the MAPS – Montana GEAR Up filmmaking workshop on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

“Our message was to inspire not only ourselves about thinking about our futures but for other students to never stop dreaming,” said director Mecca Bullchild. “In working with MAPS, I learned about all of the different roles in filmmaking – like director, actor, and scriptwriter. My favorite part was learning about the cameras, because I like photography and realized how important they are to making movies, like having the right angles and lighting.”

“Art for Survival” is about an after-school program at the Holter Museum of Art that provides a creative community for teens to engage with visual artists and writers to explore ways that art can help them navigate life. In this short documentary, students express what it’s like to be a teenager in contemporary society, investigate the stresses that can lead to anxiety and depression, and learn how to safely share powerful emotions in a communal setting.

“Browning Rising Voices” tells the story of an extraordinary poetry program at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Students write and perform original spoken-word literary pieces. In this mini-documentary, students filmed their writing process and performances, and directed “vignettes” to accompany their poetry. The film artfully demonstrates the strength and importance of their stories. As student Hailie Hendersen wrote for the film, “The Seventh Generation is here, and coming on strong.”

“All of MAPS projects, especially these films awarded by NATAS NW, are a lens into the hearts and minds of the next generation. They have powerful stories to share and MAPS is dedicated to helping Montana’s students build the skills to bring them to life,” said Harff.

For more information, please visit or MAPS Media Institute’s YouTube channel to view the award-winning films.


(Photos): Browning students film “Aisitsimsta/Imagination.” (Photo courtesy of MAPS Media Institute)

Members of Browning Rising Voices poetry club – the subject of an Emmy-winning mini-documentary. (Photo courtesy of Browning Rising Voices)




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