Willie Burton holding awards
Willie D. Burton has won two Academy Awards. He has been nominated seven times, the most of any Black person ever. He will lead a film workshop for Kansas City youth next summer.

You’ve seen it at the end of the movie – that long list of names scrolling across your screen. 

Those names all represent jobs in the film industry, good-paying jobs that Creative City KC wants you to know about, and they are bringing some accomplished friends to town to help introduce local youth and young adults to careers in those jobs.

Two-time Academy Award-winning sound engineer Willie D. Burton and veteran film and TV producer Dorez Douglas will lead a music-in-film workshop in June. The two have worked as production partners for a long time. 

Burton is best known for his sound engineering work on the films “Shawshank Redemption,” “Dreamgirls,” and, most recently, “Oppenheimer.” Douglas is the successful producer of “Beverly Hood” (1999) and the short “Voices” (2022); in the 1990s, she started the Entertainment Industry Training Program for teens, which was co-sponsored by Dreamworks and Sony.  

The free five-day workshop will take place the last week of June, with the goal of exposing students to different elements of sound and filmmaking. 

Bukeka Blakemore, CEO of Creative City KC, says that our region regularly produces talented creative talent and that there are many good-paying jobs behind the scenes in our area, in film. 

“The workshop is for those interested in careers in and around filmmaking,” says Blakemore. “Curriculum is still being developed, but we are going to be providing the fundamentals of filmmaking.”

The organization hopes to attract youth and young adults, aged about 16 to 22, who can parlay the experience into a budding career. During the workshop, participants will produce a short documentary called a “proof of concept” that functions as a preview for a later full-length production. 

The seven-to-ten-minute proof of concept will be for a documentary featuring historic Kansas City sites like the Dunbar neighborhood and Quindaro Ruins. 

How to Get Involved

While formal signups haven’t started yet, Blakemore encourages individuals to email CreativeCityKC@gmail.com to express interest in the workshop and identify what area of the film industry they’d like to learn about. 

Having this info will help the organization in developing the program’s curriculum. Initial plans include behind-the-scenes lessons in sound engineering, lighting, and production. 

The group hopes to have 30 to 50 young adults participate in the workshop that will include  both classroom and in-the-field experience. 

Who’s Behind the Workshop

Since 2017, Kansas City has been designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) City of Music for its contributions to jazz, swing, and blues. From KC’s participation with UNESCO the nonprofit Creative City KC connected with the national think tank uThinkIndigo — which Burton and Douglas work with — to train area students about the impact of music in filmmaking.

Prior to joining The Community Voice, he worked as a reporter & calendar editor with The Pitch, writing instructor with The Kansas City Public Library, and as a contributing food writer for Kansas...