Where John Dargan feels most comfortable is behind a camera lens.
For Mr. Dargan, who recently graduated from Connecticut College in New London, Conn., the camera lens has provided a platform for free expression and creativity. It has also brought him a little bit of celebrity.
Mr. Dargan grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he attended Brooklyn Community Arts and Media High School. He credits the school with giving him the tools to develop as a filmmaker and producer.
“High school was epic,” he said. “I made over 20 short films. The school has phenomenal resources that some people don’t experience until college. I was blessed for this; it made me want to be a media creator.”
As a high school student, he was one of the primary subjects of a documentary that put public education at the center of a national debate. The film, “The New Public,” earned several honors, including official selection into the Santa Cruz Film Festival.
“ ‘The New Public’ was great,” Mr. Dargan said. “It’s taken me to film festivals across America, from San Francisco to Boulder, Colo. When you see people on reality television and wonder how it must feel, I know the feeling.”
Despite being featured in such a successful production, Mr. Dargan enjoys making his own.
“Even if I wasn’t paid, I would do it,” he said of filmmaking and producing. He has worked at several media organizations, including Focus Features and Viacom Media Networks, and for “PBS NewsHour.”
“I eventually want to go into producing for television,” said Mr. Dargan, who hopes to become a better storyteller while at The New York Times Student Journalism Institute.
“I have almost no journalism experience, so this opportunity will teach me something new. It puts me in a new city and requires me to conduct research and interviews. I couldn’t ask for a better experience.”
Like journalism, film is about storytelling for Dargan.
“I want to make films about sensitive topics that make viewers think,” he said. “Throughout college, I learned that media is a heavy influence in the way people build their perceptions of different cultures. I want to produce content that makes people challenge their own thoughts and perspectives.”