DANVILLE (CBS 5) – When this week’s Jefferson Award winner picked up a camera, she changed her life. But as Kate Kelly reports, the Danville teenager is using her films now to make changes for others.

Eighteen-year-old Lauren Lindberg isn’t used to being on camera, she’s used to being behind it. But she sat down with CBS 5 to talk about her short films and an award-winning documentary, all created while she was finishing high school.

“I think I’ve always enjoyed being behind the camera more,” Lindberg explained. “I don’t know why or what it is but I kind of feel powerful.”

Lindberg found that power when she picked up a camera two years ago in her school media class. She didn’t have to look far to find powerful material.

“Some of the social issues I’m interested in and have filmed are blind students and their journeys toward independence, teen violence and teen homicide, body image, suicide prevention, truancy,” she listed.

When her film class was cut from the school budget, she joined the Bay Area Video Coalition and spent her summer working on a film for the Hatlen Center for the Blind. The result was a mini documentary that’s gaining attention at film festivals around the country.

“I realized that I could take other people’s stories and use them to get out a message,” Lindberg explained. “That’s when I really realized that film could be used for something important and not just messing around or goofing off.”

Lindberg’s passion for filmmaking has helped her with her own personal challenges. Highlighting the issues facing teens brought her own life into focus.

“I went through a point in my life where I had depression and I kind of withdrew from everyone and everything,” Lindberg remembered. “I think one of the main reasons I like sharing people’s stories is because I didn’t have a voice and I know what it’s like to not have a voice.”

This summer, among other projects, she’s working on a suicide prevention documentary. Program Assistant Ewen Wright says Lindberg is committed to improving the community.

“She’s using the media to shape the world around her, as opposed to just absorbing,” he said. “Lauren has really created her own sort of way to use media to empower change.”

Lindberg added, “I feel like when you make a film about a teen issue, people are watching it and dealing with.. they know that they’re not alone and that there is a way out.”

Lindberg recently learned she is a top 5 finalist for Seventeen Magazine’s “Pretty Amazing Girl” contest. She could win a $10,000 scholarship to help her pursue her film career at Chapman University, where she’s headed this fall.

“I dealt with depression two years ago and I would have never thought I would be here now,” Lindberg said. “You don’t want to give up because there’s so much coming ahead of you.”

So for using film to inspire hope, change, and understanding, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Lauren Lindberg.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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