• Identify, Explore, Imagine and Create

    Red Balloon Playroom

  • About Us

    The Red Balloon Playroom is a 12-week, one hour per week film boot camp that teaches middle school & high school students how to make movies. Students learn the elements of storytelling and then apply their knowledge to writing their own short film as a team. Once their script is complete, we hold auditions, do a table read and then shoot the film! On the last day of the program, we screen the film and celebrate!


    We are a Community Arts Partner of the LAUSD Board of Education.


    The Red Balloon Playroom is passionate about giving students the tools to engage their whole selves, stretching and challenging their sensibilities and critical thinking skills while enhancing personal enrichment. We are excited for our students to re-imagine their place and power in the world.

    What Problem Do We Solve?

    The Red Balloon Playroom addresses the problems of limited communication skills, self expression and self relevance. Students are taught interpersonal skills, storytelling and how to place value on their life and personal experiences. These skills are especially limited in LAUSD’s lower income schools that fall short on the Arts Equity Index. These students deserve to know that their story is valuable not only to themselves, but to their community and the world at large.


    The Red Balloon Playroom give students the tools to value and tell their own story and, consequently, expand the breadth of their view of the world while building confidence.


    The Red Balloon Playroom will address story techniques that focus on character building and analysis and the concepts of creativity and collaboration. It will also educate the students to the rudimentary elements of making a film that go deeper that just picking up a camera and pressing record. It will challenge students to use their imagination in a detailed, yet transformational way that deepens their personal identity and intentionally expands their education through work-based learning.

    Our Clients

    The Red Balloon Playroom welcomes Public and/or Charter Middle schools within the Los Angeles Unified School District.


    Book Us Now!

  • Meet Our Team

    Phyllis T. Bancroft

    CEO/Creator/Teaching Artist

    Ernie Silva

    Teaching Artist

    R. Ernie Silva is hardly typical in any sense of the word. He is a product of Bushwick projects in Brooklyn New York. It was there Ernie got his first tastes of life in front of live audiences. As Ernie grew so did his taste for performing.

    While embarking on his tutelage in guitar styles ranging from classical to blues (most of which he taught himself while sleeping on couches, and even a few nights riding freight trains around the country) Ernie found inspiration in the voices of Andres Segovia, John McLaughlin, Paco De Lucia, Son House, and Jimi Hendrix.

    Ernie went on to become the first member of his family to graduate college. He holds a Bachelor’s in Acting from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and a MFA from the University of Southern California. It was then that Ernie developed his award winning world traveled solo show, “Heavy Like the Weight of a Flame.”

    When Ernie is not on stage you can be find him teaching theater to incarcerated youth and children around the inner city of Los Angeles.

    Charise Sowells

    Teaching Artist

    Charise "Lake Lady" Sowells is an independent songwriter who has toured the US, performed internationally, and been featured in Ukulele Magazine and SF Weekly as well as more than 30 other media outlets. Her songs have been played on radio stations in the UK, USA, Australia, and Sweden. Sowells also holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts where she was awarded twice for her scripts. A former MTV music video junkie, she has written, produced and directed music videos under her company name, Unabashed Productions. She and her husband currently reside in Los Angeles.

    Ciera Payton

    Teaching Artist

    Michael Darrow

    Teaching Artist/Editor

    Brenda Banta

    Teaching Artist

  • Photos & Videos

    Works from our student filmmakers

    Still I Rise

    Carver Middle School

    Phenomenal Woman

    Carver Middle School

    Cult Twins

    Sal Castro Middle School

    The Cross

    Sal Castro Middle School

    Squeeky's Revenge

    Virgil Middle School

    Auditorium Mystery

    Sal Castro Middle School