Latinitas - A Strong Voice for Latina Youth

Film: TEN9EIGHT: Shoot for the Moon
Director: Mary Mazzio
Release: November 13 (Limited)

For many high school students in low income communities, graduating high school is a big accomplishment. For the young entrepreneurs in the film TEN9EIGHT: Shoot for the Moon, this will simply not be enough. The film introduces several young men and women with a goal: to be successful.

TEN9EIGHT, directed by award-winning Mary Mazzio, is about an annual business plan competition run by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). Over 24,000 students competed to win the grand prize of $10,000 to launch their business. However, the film showcased so much more than that. At it’s heart, the film is about the inspirational stories of the students and their drive, determination, and passion to succeed when many of the statistics say that they probably won’t. The film mentions that in America, a kid drops out of high school every 9 seconds. (Take a second to imagine that). Considering the challenges that these students face (race, poverty, drugs, and crime), it’s uplifting to know that they are completely driven to change their own circumstances.

TEN9EIGHT introduces some of the entrepreneurs and their original business plans. The business ideas ranged from practical to fun, but all were innovative. Anné teaches dance instruction for urban music. Alex makes custom guitars. Amanda makes vegetarian, organic, and chemical-free dog treats. Mac fuses the technology of transition glasses with football helmet shields. Jessica makes a cake on an edible stick. Robbie teaches his own language: sign language. Many of these students didn’t exactly plan on becoming a young entrepreneur. They might have taken a class on the subject, and added in what they are passionate about. Baking, music, animals, or sports don’t just have to be hobbies.

The film also touches on that concept. What if schools didn’t just have students learning about English, math, science, and history? What if students could study something that they love, something that they could use? Not just in the future, but right now? Some of the students’ businesses are already up and running. It gives a whole new perspective on, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The finals round was intense...and comical. The students had to present in front of big time entrepreneurs, such as Wyc Grousbeck (owner of the Celtics) and Kay Koplovitz (founder of USA Network). There they were, teenagers presenting in business attire such as suits, ties, or heels (though not all on the same person, though there was a mascot). They used vocabulary that economics and business majors in college are probably still learning. Terms like return on investment, cost structure, sole proprietorship, equity, and profit ratio were thrown around along with figures to back it all up.

The judges showed no mercy in asking the tough questions. Some of the funniest moments of the film occurred here, when the students either responded with quick wit or fumbled to recover. One contestant even refused to tell the judge his secret ingredient. Showing that even under intense pressure, these kids are still themselves and can have some fun.

What makes these students even more amazing is their back stories. The students featured all seemed full of excitement and nerves for the competition, but many have overcome much more. Anné (dance instruction) was molested by her grandfather, Rodney (wedding videos with original music and the narrator of the film), was in the foster system while his father was in jail. Others have immigrant parents, have suffered the death of a parent, have become a parent themselves, or live in poverty. The stories of these young entrepreneurs will have you fighting back tears, laughing, and wishing that their products were available near you.

Related Links:
TEN9EIGHT's Official Page
TEN9EIGHT's Facebook Page
TEN9EIGHT's Twitter Page
NFTE's Home Page

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