Levente Mihalik, 29
CO-FOUNDER AND OPERATING PARTNER
Life Story: It’s easy to believe Levente Mihalik when he says he loves kids. When we reach him, the East Vancouver native is at the hospital, having just witnessed the birth of his first child, a daughter. He also spends nearly every waking moment surrounded by young folks. Mihalik taught robotics at Gladstone Secondary before his recent parental leave, and since he was a teenager he’s devoted every summer (and many Saturdays) to running moviemaking camps for children aged five to 18 with long-time friend Matt Kennedy.
The pair officially started Young Moviemakers in 2014 after holding summer camps out of SFU for eight years. “We grew the program from 40 to hundreds of kids, and kids kept coming back and they loved it and they loved us,” Mihalik remembers. “But we realized that we didn’t own any of the content we were making; even though we felt like we created it, it wasn’t ours legally.”
Mihalik credits Templeton Secondary drama teacher Jim Crescenzo and his program for at-risk young men as a gateway to the industry. Thanks to Crescenzo, he was editing projects for money at 14 while some of his pals spent their time in more nefarious ways. “I have some friends who passed away from drugs or gang violence, things like that,” says the son of Hungarian immigrants. “But it made me realize how profound mentorship really is.”
Mihalik has proved himself something of a willing student. He’s earned four degrees and diplomas so far: two from BCIT and one each from Capilano University and UBC.
Bottom Line: Young Moviemakers works with some 700 kids a year at community centres and recreation spots in Metro Vancouver. The camps employ about 20 people, and the films made by students have won more than 100 awards worldwide.