Julia Holland is so passionate about saving the planet, she started the performance group Eco Hero Kids a decade ago as a platform for kids to educate and entertain their peers. Today, as the topic of climate change is making headlines daily, the Malibu resident has reinvented Eco Hero Kids (EHK), reflecting today’s youth raised on video platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. EHK has announced its Young Filmmakers Series to spread its word of environmental sensitivity and how today’s youth can facilitate change. Thanks to a generous grant from two Malibu filmmakers, the EHK series could be used as classroom curriculum.
Many in Malibu are familiar with longtime resident Julia Holland as a performer, music educator, producer and theater director with a long association at the Malibu Playhouse. As founder and executive director of EHK, Holland channeled her energy and talent writing, producing and directing all the music for EHK. The project featured young Malibu talent singing about ways to help save the planet. An album was written and produced by Holland as well. The Eco Hero Kids performed at festivals, press conferences and events to spread their positive news about ways children could lead ecological efforts. There were four waves of Eco Hero Kid performers, but eventually the children aged out. Holland wouldn’t let her mission to nourish Mother Nature fade away, incorporating her vision into other Malibu theatrical projects.
When the pandemic hit, Holland had time to write teaching modules focused on saving the environment. She found teachers to help put together a program that she hopes eventually will be used in schools. Major funding was provided by local film producers Paula Mae and Steve Schwartz of Chockstone Pictures.
“It enabled us to have this whole crew of young people. It really is a vision of kids producing for kids. It’s great,” Holland said of the project that presents teens speaking about ecology, teaching lessons to other children all while gaining valuable filmmaking experience.
“We are proud to support the EHK filmmaking program,” Paula Mae Schwartz said. “Young people realize the damaged world is the one they will inherit unless they can start the recovery, and the power of film can help do that.” According to Eco Hero Kids, citing a 2019 study, Gen Z-ers (ages six to 24) are facing a climate crisis and 87 percent of them are worried about it. But the EHK foundation says young citizens raised on social media can influence others with creativity, activism and leadership. As a premier youth arts and activism program in Malibu with a drive to effect change, the EHK Foundation is launching to a bigger audience through its filmmaker series. Thanks to the grant from Chockstone, EHK was able to produce short filmed episodes focusing on ecology. Some of the topics in the series include the coral reef, bees, air pollution, trash, composting and climate change. Each episode is roughly five minutes long. Most of the segments were written and produced by Pepperdine University students. High schoolers served as crew, working cameras, sound and other production assistance. The shorts were filmed on location in Malibu. Holland wrote all the music.
A diverse group of 20 kids from Malibu, Pacific Palisades and other parts of Los Angeles participated this summer and last.
The series will be available in the near future at EcoHeroKids.org.
Holland intends to develop a theater project based on the film series as well.
“This is an opportunity to bring people together. We’re so divided in so many ways—politically, ideologically—but this is a topic that is really about everybody and for everybody,” Holland said. “I think it’s an opportunity to be able to bring kids together as a community—as a world community involved in something that’s important.”