Every June at Maplewood Middle School in suburban New Jersey, 6th-grade students participate in an end-of-the-year rite of passage: they compose a letter to their future 18-year-old selves. This extracurricular assignment not only encourages middle schoolers to reflect on who they are, but to imagine who they might become. After the letters are written and sealed, two dedicated teachers safely lock them away for six years….and wait. When these same students are young adults ready to graduate high school, the teachers mail the letters back to their authors.
For 25 years, no one was allowed behind the curtain to witness the poignant moment when the contents of these letters are revealed, until now. Filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the letter tradition takes on an even deeper meaning during our uncertain times, as the students grapple with quarantine rules, safety concerns, and missing daily real-life contact with their friends and teachers.
As the world’s student community reimagines their future, HP shares a new film series of hope and optimism through a handwritten letter
DEAR FUTURE ME, a new documentary short film in two parts, features both high school seniors opening their prophetic letters and 6th graders writing to their future selves. The results are surprising, engaging, emotional and most of all, heartwarming. But even more than reminiscing about their middle school selves, the letters prompt reflections on identity, race, sexuality and just how much growing and changing kids do in six short years.
The parents, students and school district granted award-winning directors Sarah Klein and Tom Mason special permission to film this ritual. According to Mason, “2020 has changed all of us in profound ways, and that really comes to the surface for these kids. For the seniors, it’s a clear sense that their more innocent, younger selves could never have imagined that things would turn out this way… For the 6th graders, these letters highlight how difficult it’s been to go through all this at such a formative age… but they still manage to have fun riding bikes, building forts, and just being kids. It’s a resilient spirit that I think we can all take a page from.”
Funded by The Garage by HP and produced by Redglass Pictures, the films will be released this fall. DEAR FUTURE ME is a follow up to the Redglass and HP film History of Memory that won Best Episodic Film at last year’s Tribeca X Film Festival and Best Video Series (branded) at the 2020 Webby Awards.
The film will be released on HP.com’s digital hub, the Garage (garage.hp.com) on September 10, 2020 and select VOD platforms later this fall.
DEAR FUTURE ME is directed by Sarah Klein and Tom Mason. Together they created Redglass Pictures in 2008 and since then have co-directed and produced many notable projects, including the New York Times short, Miracle on 22nd Street, which was recently optioned by Tina Fey and Universal Pictures, and a series of shorts for the Ken Burns PBS project The Emperor of Maladies, which won a DuPont Award. The film was produced by the Garage by HP, HP Inc’s digital storytelling hub.