Finding Home, directed by Ethan Dumper wins the 2023 WOJ Youth Reporter High School Documentary Award

by Abigail Richardson from MY HERO Staff



Abigail Richardson, Editor, MY HERO

email: [email protected]


MY HERO is excited to announce that Finding Home, directed by Ethan Dumper has been selected as winner of the 2023 WOJ Youth Reporter High School Documentary Award!

The WOJ Youth Reporter Award celebrates youth reporters who are creating videos on heroes making a positive difference in their community and the world. This award is presented by Esther Wojcicki, an outstanding media arts educator, author, and journalist. The prize is open for Middle and High School Students with cash prizes up to $2000.

This year, there were 7 High School finalists and 5 Middle School finalists.

Finding Home had some stiff competition. Said the judges, “Your film shines light on homelessness in a way that helps the audience care more about this important issue, nice work!”

Finding Home is a short documentary put together by a youth filmmaker regarding the systemic problems behind homelessness and possible solutions.

153171Ethan DumperEthan Dumper

Watch the film Here


MY HERO interviewed High School Student, Ethan Dumper about the making of his winning film.

153196EthanEthan Dumper

How long have you been making films?

Finding Home is my first film, but I am currently working on two others, one is a more dramatic film, and one is another documentary about the impact of Affirmative Action and race-based policies

Why were you drawn to making this film or films in general?

I think that film is a form of media that all people can understand, because it can be almost any length, from 5 minutes to 3 hours, and it is both visual and auditory. You can go back and watch or listen to a film time and time again and come away with a different understanding. It is a form of storytelling that appeals to a wide audience, and I think it is an interesting tool in that way. At the same time, it can be tough to communicate exactly what you want to through film, so it is definitely a double-edged sword, but, when done effectively, it can leave a lasting impact on many people.

153172Homelessness NationwideEthan DumperWhat are the issues that are most important to you (in general), and why? Perhaps other than homelessness? 

Some other issues of importance to me include climate change, gun violence, and defending books in public and school libraries. I do volunteer and activist work regarding these issues, as well as quite a bit of journalism, and you can find out more about that online.

Can you tell us about the process of making the film? Who else was on the team?

The film was entirely produced by me because it was originally for a contest that encouraged total student independence when making films. I did everything myself from the research to the interviews, music production, and editing. I learned how to do everything through online articles or my own exploration. I was watching former President Trump’s 2024 campaign announcement on C-SPAN, and an ad came up for a student film contest they were running around the world, and the film took off from there. I did not get started until late December though, so with a late January deadline all of the work had to be done really fast. I called and emailed many congresspeople, senators, and local activists, and when I met with Heather Tuttle, a volunteer contact of my mother's, she had a really great story to tell and so much insight into this field. There were definitely some time constraints, and it was hard learning how to create music that fit the story I was trying to tell, I am getting better at that, but overall, it was very satisfying and gratifying to see my final product out there.

153170Heather TuttleEthan Dumper

Did you have a mentor?

I didn’t have a mentor on this project, or in film in general, but I did take a screenwriting class this summer, and my teacher, Mrs. Ayoub who was great to work with.

Do you have a personal hero?

Trevor Noah and Pete Buttieig are two people who have definitely shaped my worldview, and who really inspire me. I admire their work ethic, the natural challenges they have had to overcome, and their speaking style, which is very engaging and fun to listen to. I started following Mayor Pete when he was running for President in 2020, and Trevor Noah in his last year at the Daily Show.

What's next for you?

I am constantly working on different projects, I will be coming out with a new film, hopefully by the end of February 2024. I am on the Giving Spirit Youth Council aimed at addressing homelessness, and I am a journalist, I recently covered the RNC Debate in Simi Valley where I interviewed presidential candidates like Doug Burgum, and California Governor Gavin Newsom.

About the MY HERO International Film Festival:

The My Hero Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to showcasing films celebrating the power of the human spirit. Hosted by Eva Haller, a prominent philanthropist and advocate for social change, the festival provides a platform for filmmakers to share inspirational stories of everyday heroes. Thanks to generous sponsors, prizes are awarded to elementary, middle school, high school, college, and professionals in a variety of categories including documentary, narrative, music video, animation, experimental, and more.

The festival aims to inspire audiences to recognize the heroism in their own lives and encourage positive actions in their communities. Learn more.

Join us for the Awards Celebration on Saturday, November 18th at 2pm (PST). Festival winners and their heroes will be on hand to answer questions and share their stories. Short clips from select films will be screened. Awards are given to winners at Elementary, Middle School, High School, College and Professional levels. Register HERE.



Page created on 11/3/2023 2:59:01 PM

Last edited 12/18/2023 6:31:08 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.