Seventeen-year-old Pablo Zuniga had an idea for a TV show. It wasn’t about fast cars, space or crime scene investigators. Pablo wanted to tell the world that it’s okay for boys to cry and suicide is not something to be glorified. 

Pablo

Pablo was one of 16 high school students from across the U.S. who came to AT&T’s El Segundo, California campus in August for the chance of a lifetime. The students got to produce a television pilot that has the chance to be picked up by a major studio or television network. Pablo and his peers spent a week getting a taste of working in the entertainment industry alongside AT&T and the nonprofit Fresh Films.

When asked what drew him to the program, Pablo said he envisioned himself in a career that was fun, but, at the same time, helped others. But there was another reason Pablo wanted to join the program.

“I had depression. And there was a point when I wanted to end my life,” said Pablo. “I thought film would not only help me, but it could help other people.”

He described how watching films that painted suicide in a heroic light would leave him feeling frustrated. Pablo was concerned the world was getting a distorted view of depression and suicide.

This frustration fueled Pablo to write a television show proposal about a young man who wins his battle with depression and overcomes the desire to take his own life. The proposal was included in Pablo’s application for the Fresh Films program.

Along with his fellow student filmmakers, Pablo spent a week experiencing what it’s like to create a television pilot: casting actors, processing call-backs, and learning how to use a camera dolly and sound equipment. The plot was not Pablo’s idea, but he still had an incredible experience. And Pablo even has a cameo in the pilot.

Fresh Films has placed teenagers behind the camera of numerous film projects for nearly 16 years. Teens attend workshops led by industry professionals before being put to work on an actual set. Past projects include the Emmy-nominated kids’ show “Detectives Club” and the science adventure film “Alternate Universe: A Rescue Mission.” This summer was the first time Fresh Films held a program to create TV pilots. 

The pilot is currently being shown to network executives and in school assemblies around the country. It could take a year or more to find out if the show will air.

But for now, Pablo is considering applying to a 4-year college with a film school. And maybe someday he will turn his pilot idea into a show that could help those suffering from depression.

“There’s always someone who can help,” said Pablo. “And a film could impact someone. I want it to speak to the world.”

At AT&T, we’re transforming our current and future workforce to be leaders in media. Through AT&T Aspire, we’re empowering the next generation of storytellers and creators with organizations like Fresh Films by showing them skills, careers and opportunities in the media industry.

Stories like Pablo’s inspire us all at AT&T. He’s one of the reasons we’re committed to helping aspiring filmmakers find and share their voices.

About the Author

Brooke Hanson

Hanson_Brooke

Brooke Hanson is Senior Manager of Social Innovation for AT&T. She is located in Los Angeles, CA.

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