Spy Hop Productions


Spy Hop Productions

Spy Hop Productions
511 West 200 South
Suite 100
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Phone: 801.532.7500
E-Mail: info@spyhop.org
URL: spyhop.org

Focus: Media Arts

Annual Number Participating: 1,800

Ages: Elementary School, Middle School, High School

Annual Budget: $1,400,000

Partners: KRCL 90.9; Salt Lake City and Granite School Districts; Salt Lake Community College; Salt Lake County Division of Youth Services; Salt Lake Early Intervention; University of Utah Youth Education; Utah Film Center; Utah Film Commission

Funders: George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation; Jarvis & Constance Doctorow Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Salt Lake City Arts Council; Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks; Utah Division of Arts & Museums; Utah State Office of Education; Wheeler Foundation

Offer young people access to digital technology—cameras, audio recorders, editing systems—and the results can be surprisingly moving: One teen creates a radio diary about her struggles with bulimia; a young man develops a documentary about a family’s decision to adopt children with Down syndrome, from China; an incarcerated youth produces a podcast on how his decision to deal drugs has affected his life. These are just a few of the projects completed by participants in Spy Hop Productions’ Digital Media Arts Programs.

The productions demonstrate how “authentic and powerful” young people’s stories can be when they have the tools for self-expression and a safe and stimulating environment in which to find their voice, notes Kasandra VerBrugghen, executive director of the Salt Lake City-based youth-focused media organization.

Started 16 years ago as a modest film apprenticeship program, Spy Hop has grown into one of the nation’s largest and most highly regarded youth-oriented media organizations. At its downtown media center, Spy Hop offers more than a dozen different film, music, audio-production, and game-design classes, reaching more than 600 young people a year. While classes draw a diverse group of participants, Spy Hop targets recruitment to students from lower-income neighborhoods with limited after-school options and offers generous tuition assistance. Spy Hop reaches an additional 1,200 young people a year through programs at partnering schools, youth service organizations, and juvenile detention facilities.

Offerings at Spy Hop’s downtown site range from short-term introductory workshops to year-long filmmaking classes. Artist-mentors lead the classes, helping students gain technical media-production skills, while nurturing the social, collaborative, and communication skills they need for success. Students tend to take multiple classes, drawn by access to knowledgeable instructors, high-quality equipment, and the tangible media products that come out of Spy Hop’s project-based approach, VerBrugghen explains.

“Spyhopping” refers to the way dolphins raise their heads out of the water to get their bearings. That’s also an apt metaphor for the way the organization helps young people navigate the path to adulthood and prepares them for a future in the growing digital-oriented economy. Surveys found that 86 percent of Spy Hop’s students go on to college. And, more than 40 percent of program alums work in the digital media field.

Spy Hop gave me the courage, confidence, and self-belief to make my dreams a reality. It seems like every challenge I’ve faced as an audio engineer is answered in some way by things I learned at Spy Hop.

Sean Halls former student, Audio Apprenticeship Program, Digital Media Arts Programs