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DAFT History

DAFT was founded in 1969

DIGITAL ARTS, FILM & TELEVISION (DAFT) is a non-profit educational organization that has been providing services to its members and the state of Michigan since 1969. The founding members of DAFT (some still active) were teachers, librarians, and filmmakers. DAFT's mission is to promote media literacy through the creative use of film and video. DAFT does this by conducting workshops and conferences for teachers and media professionals. DAFT actively develops student involvement in media arts and studies through our annual statewide festival, scholarships and special workshops for students and provides support for emerging media artists through promotional and fiduciary assistance.

The Michigan Student Film & Video Festival

The Michigan Student Film & Video Festival, the longest running DAFT event, began in 1969 with a handful of 8mm and 16mm films. Now video productions comprise the majority of the nearly 350 entries for the Festival, which is co-sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts and held each spring. According to the American Film Institute, it is the longest running student film festival in the nation providing a public venue for the work of students in grades K - 12, as well as giving recognition and significant awards to young media artists.

Focal Point Video Workshop

DAFT has presented Focal Point Film/Video workshop, an intensive week of "hands-on" video study for adults and mature high school students, since 1972. A second intensive workshop for teachers and other interested adults was Art In Motion, a week-long workshop that focused on the study of all kinds on animation that started in 2004 and ran through 2012.

Student Animation Workshop

The DAFT Student Animation Workshop was started in 1992 to address the growing interest in animation. A group of 22 high school students from across the state were selected to take part in this residential workshop where over four weekends the students learn the art of animation using traditional methods as well as the newest technology. This workshop ran through 2011.

Annual Symposia

Since 2013 DAFT has presented a pair of symposia designed specifically for Media teachers and their students. They offer sessions on a variety of aspect of  media production, equipment demonstrations and an unparalleled opportunity to network with others teachers, students and media professionals.

Media Advocacy

DAFT also advocates and represents the interests of film and video in statewide venues and conferences. We have made frequent presentations at the Michigan Art Education Association, worked on draft committees regarding arts policy and advised media organizations about the issues of media education. DAFT was designated by the Michigan Youth Arts Festival Board to select students to represent the art of film and video at this annual celebration of the arts held on the campus of Western Michigan University.

We have worked quite intently to develop a statewide (and now extending nationwide) network of students, teachers, video artists and media professionals.. Many students who have had their first training and/or recognition through DAFT events and workshops have gone on to media careers. Notable among these are Sam Raimi, director of films like Spiderman and The Quick and the Dead and Doug Chiang, art director for Star Wars Phantom Menace and a winner of three Academy Awards. While we take great pride in their accomplishments, we are just as proud of all the students who have learned to create and evaluate media through their DAFT experience.

Michigan Governor's Arts Award

In 2006 DAFT was the recipient of the Governor's Arts Award for small arts organizations in recognition of many years of advocacy of media arts education. DAFT has hosted a variety of programs and initiatives over the last 40 years. Some have changed, grown or been set aside in an effort to meet the ever changing demands. In order to reflect the growth of the medium and the demographics of our program participants, DAFT has changed its name from Detroit Area Film Teachers to Detroit Area Film &Television to Digital Arts Film & Television, yet we humbly remain “DAFT.”

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