Aerial shot of Manhattan. Camera pans down to office building. Dissolve. Behind a desk, a movie producer reads a script for “Northanger Abbey.”
Smash cut to close-up of producer’s lips as we hear: “Jane, honestly. Bath, in England, really? Why not Weimar Germany? How about Shanghai, present day? A remake of ‘Blade Runner’! But with an edge!”
Fade to black.
Strictly speaking, none of this happened at the Tribeca Film Festival last week. For one thing, Jane Austen has been dead since 1817.
But for 20 New York City high schoolers, ages 15 to 19, the festival was a deep-end-of-the-pool immersion into the modern film business. They got to ask many questions, and each wore a big yellow credential that read “Filmmaker.”
They were enrolled in Tribeca Film Fellows, a program that began Monday and will end on May 4. The fellowship program, which began in 2004, is intended to start young people on careers in film through mentorships with filmmakers, workshops, panel discussions and the filming of a collaborative documentary titled “CityScapes.”
On Thursday, the teenagers met executives at Miramax Films on the Avenue of the Americas in SoHo. A few participants grimaced when David Greenbaum, vice president for production and development, declared, “Ninety-five percent of what comes across my desk, I say no to.”
On the other hand, Mr. Greenbaum said, approving a film project involves weighing commercial potential, artistic merit and so many mystery factors that executives like him often get it wrong.
For example, Mr. Greenbaum, 32, turned down a script that involved masochism and a young woman’s obsession with her boss. “I was almost physically offended” by it, he said.
The completed film, released by another company in 2002, was “Secretary,” starring James Spader, and was Maggie Gyllenhaal’s breakout film.
The teenagers, by way of introduction to the Miramax executives, named their favorite movies.
Some said “No Country for Old Men,” directed by the Coen brothers, winner of the 2008 Academy Award for best picture, and co-financed by Paramount Vantage and Miramax.
Others said “The Science of Sleep” (2006), “Cinema Paradiso” (1988), “Dancehall Queen” (1997), “Requiem for a Dream” (2000), “Persepolis” (2007), “L’Auberge Espagnole” (2002), “Amores Perros” (2000) and “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962).
Kendra Dennis, 16, from Murry Bergtraum High School in Manhattan, said she loved “Goldfinger,” made in 1964. “Filmmaking has evolved since then,” Kendra said, “but the way it was shot is still so beautiful.”
There have been 21 James Bond movies so far. But Kendra had never seen any of the earlier films starring Sean Connery.
The Miramax executives also showed trailers of their upcoming films, including an adaptation called “Blindness,” starring Julianne Moore. Gleb Mikhalev, 17, of the Beacon School in Manhattan, told the executives that he had just finished reading the novel by José Saramago and that he was surprised by the coincidence.
Gleb was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. His mother is a documentary filmmaker who lives in Iowa City. “The first movie I ever saw,” he said, “I was in it, and it was shot by my mother.”
Later in the afternoon, the teenagers got to meet filmmakers at the Tribeca Film Center in mentor sessions.
“He asked me how old I am,” exclaimed Wei Ling Chang, referring to her mentee, Daniel Kharlak, of Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn. “He’s only 18 and I’m 33!”
Both, however, share a love of film noir, said Ms. Chang, who does indeed look like a teenager. In 2007, she shot a 16-minute short inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, called “The Good Husband.” And she has also directed, produced or written numerous television shows, including episodes of MTV’s “My Super Sweet 16.”
“Daniel doesn’t really have a story yet,” said Ms. Chang about the story pitch that he is working on. “He’s got a beginning but not an end.”
Another mentor, Dan Castle, 41, whose Australian surfing drama, “Newcastle,” is scheduled to be released this year, came prepared with a video iPod on which he showed the trailer for his movie.
Several teenagers gathered around him. Where do you put the camera when the wave hits? How do you keep it steady in the bobbing water? He passed the iPod from student to student, showing his solutions.
“I’m not technically that knowledgeable,” said Mr. Castle, of Los Angeles. “I don’t know what camera to use, I don’t know what film stock is best and all that stuff. But I know what I want it to say, and I know what I want it to look like. And that’s what I told them.”
For Alma Osorio, 16, of the LaGuardia Arts high school in Manhattan, the day had been exhilarating. The daughter of a janitor and a traffic enforcement agent, she said her favorite movie was “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
“It’s told through the eyes of a young girl,” she said.