Planetary Health Film Lab

Young Lives Research | We examine and support youth wellbeing on a complex planet


STATUS: Current

The Planetary Health Film Lab (Film Lab) was was designed and implemented by Dr. Mark Terry, Postdoctoral Fellow of the Dahdaleh Institute of Global Health Research (DIGHR) at York University, with funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) from October 2019 to April 2020.  The Film Lab pilot project was supported by Dr. Kate Tilleczek, Dr. James Orbinsky, Director of DIGHR, and a dedicated team of film industry experts, community activists, educators and storytellers. The Film Lab was designed to engage selected youth from around the globe in a process of social issue film making whereby youth developed skills to effectively tell stories that communicate data, research, and life experiences related to the health of the planet. This intensive one-week lab provided youth with technical, creative and critical thinking skills that will further develop their own ongoing creative processes and actions towards improved Planetary Health in their home communities and around the globe.


The goals of the Film Lab were to:

1.    Provide young international participants with the opportunity to engage with and learn from a dynamic team of professional and academic experts to better understand cultural and contextual aspects and implications of Planetary Health.

2.    Provide hands-on training in social-issue filmmaking using a variety of new digital technologies.

3.    Provide understandings of theories and practices of social-issue filmmaking that are proven to be successful at informing and influencing behaviour and policy.

4.    Help to effect change on a more global scale by establishing and supporting a network of young Plenary Health filmmakers and connecting them to the Youth Climate Report as a networking, knowledge mobilization and learning space.

The international design of the Film Lab ensured cross cultural engagement and teamwork, allowing seven (7) youth from six (6) countries to develop a deeper understanding of the lives and contexts of young people from around the globe. Through a series of workshops and seminars, youth learned about the theories and practices of filmmaking and storytelling, and the technical processes of production and postproduction. The intention of the Film Lab was to provide young filmmakers with the tools needed to share stories and experiences of Planetary Health using platforms that reach a global audience.

Participants’ films are now housed within the Youth Climate Report map– a multilinear, interactive database documentary film project (created by Dr. Mark Terry) which uses a  a Geographic Information System (GIS) map platform to showcase more than 400 climate research videos that have been produced by young people from around the world. The Youth Climate Report, including the films of Film Lab participants (identified by black camera icons) also resides on the on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website  and is updated annually. These films are made available to viewers around the globe and are used as a resource to delegates attending the United Nations climate summits (COP conferences). These important youth stories are shared with high-level policy officials and provide a much-needed space for youth voice in this urgent conversation.