What are CityShorts?

Short documentary films made by students about their neighbourhood, its history, dynamic features and compelling residents.

With the help of experienced filmmakers and journalists, Back Lane Studios offers CityShorts workshops in schools and in extracurricular settings for students.

The videos at the top of the page were made by Grade 12 students at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Secondary School in Toronto.

Why make CityShorts?

Every neighbourhood is rich with stories – the people, the places, the landscape, the ghosts of history. But most of us are unaware of them, and much is being lost as the community goes through rapid change.

In making CityShorts, students engage in their communities in new ways, share what they learn through video in public venues, online through websites and social media. All of us will see our environment with new eyes.

Skills Development:

The project offers a unique opportunity for youth to develop skills in all aspects of documentary filmmaking and, at the same time, learn more about their neighbourhoods and local history.

Ontario Curriculum Objectives:

The program addresses  many objectives of the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Social Science and Humanities Curriculum, as well as those of the Canadian and World Studies Curriculum.  Specialist High Skills Major students in Ontario secondary schools will gain direct experience with the filmmaking industry through Back Lane Studios’ mentoring program. The opportunity to build portfolios and have their films publicly screened is of great advantage to these students.  

CityShorts Programs:

Coming up:

  • CityShorts in the Schools: October, 2016: Grade 12, Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School.
  • CityShorts for Adults: Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn how to make short professional-looking videos?  Evening workshops are scheduled for fall, 2016, in our studio.  Watch for updates coming soon. 
  • Video making for Seniors: Chartwell Grenadier Retirement Residence. Fall, 2016


  • March, 2016: Grade 12, Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School.  Six crews worked on six CityShorts.
  • February-May, 2016: Film Club, Humberside Collegiate. Students interviewed school alumni for  short documentaries to celebrate the school’s 125th anniversary in 2017.
  • October, 2015: Grade 12, Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School.
  • August, 2016: Summer Camps for Kids: Stop-motion and CityShorts.

Student Reaction to CityShorts

  • To read students’ reaction to the CityShorts program, check out this article by reporter Lisa Rainford, who interviewed some of the participants for her article in the Bloor West Villager newspaper.  Click here.