BYU animation graduate Andrew Young hopes to teach young men something Hollywood rarely focuses on. Instead of fame, money and power, he hopes his Web series "Honor Park" will emphasize age-old principles.
Although already getting positive attention, the idea behind the 20-minute episodes now exists in a Kickstarter project waiting for funding. The project has earned $40,000 of its $50,000 goal and has until March 6 to reach full funding.
Young — who grew up in Alpine, Utah and lives in California — is the major force behind the project. He is the creator, director, producer, effects artist and show host. He's even the set designer for the show's skate park.
At first glance, the set of "Honor Park" seems to be all fun and games: skateboarding ramps, all forms of sports equipment and even video games. While "Honor Park" is rooted in enjoyable activities, it has a much bigger purpose.
Young hopes the show will teach young men, whom he calls "dudes," the principles of honor that most media is lacking.
"The core philosophy of the show is that each young dude is an irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, individual," the "Honor Park" Kickstarter page says. "This means they are extremely rare, which in turn makes them infinitely valuable. 'Honor Park' recognizes this value in each young dude, and exerts its maximum effort to give them the care and focus they deserve. 'Honor Park' believes that when a young dude understands the principles of honor, he can become his best self."
The show teaches about honor through five principles: honesty, chivalry, useful skills, nonviolence and strength. It isn't childish or boring but uses things teen boys care about to emphasize honor's importance in their lives.
"The nice thing about these principles, what gives me confidence this will work is that these principles are so profound, and they reach so far, that they reach into everything a young boy is interested in," Young said. "Not only things that they're interested in but things that they're involved with. It affects every part of what they do, love and live for."
Young's inspiration for the show comes from experiences that began at an early age. A number of Young's friends were affected by drug abuse, some situations resulting in death. Many of these friends became involved in drugs during middle school and that is why Young directs his media at adolescents, whom he individually terms the "Mighty Middle Schooler."
Young's background makes him accessible to this age group. His young-at-heart mentality is obvious and because of his involvement in activities like Scouting, skating and lessons on how to make video games and art, Young meets with and understands many young men. Young said he's often the one people call when they find themselves in bad situations.
"I don't know why, but they're drawn to me," he said. "Young people, boys in particular, who are having issues are drawn to me. It started with my own friends."
Young's time in the media industry also affected his decision to create positive content. After graduating in animation, Young worked for Microsoft Games Studios and DreamWorks. He grew concerned with what he saw happening in media.
"I started asking myself, how is this stuff affecting my young buddies?" Young writes at HonorPark.tv. "As I interacted with young dudes, I could tell by the things they brought up that they were confused by the half-truths and misrepresentations on the Internet, YouTube, TV shows, games and movies. This confusion related to important topics like girls, fame, worth and violence. ..."
Young also feels that young men need these principles now more than ever as a "generation of firsts." He cited research that discusses that the rising generation is the first generation to see domestic terrorism, to compete in a global economy and to grow up with the majority living in a single-parent home.
Young shared that ideally young people would learn values from family, school, a church and media, but the reality is these opportunities are often unavailable. Young saw the need for something to fill this gap, and now he's out to see if there's a want. According to feedback, the want is out there.
"It's about time for a show that glorifies dignity, honor, kindness and education, and is cool enough to want to watch every episode. I'd like to see this happen. So many TV shows basically make it seem normal for a dude to be selfish, compromise his morals and disrespect women," Aaron McCausland commented on the Kickstarter page.
Although Young is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the principles the show teaches aren't rooted in any one religion, but can be applicable to families of all backgrounds.
Young told a story of a woman without a religious affiliation who, like many parents, wants her son to learn the principles of honor. However, she felt that these principles are often taught in religious settings. She told Young how excited she was to see this opportunity for people of all backgrounds to encourage honorable living in young men.
The pilot season will consist of five 20-minute episodes to be released in September. The show encourages teens to watch the show with an "Honor Mentor," making mentoring an important part of the learning process.
Overall, Young emphasized his belief in the power of young men to become great and the responsibility society has to help them.
"There is no such thing as a bad boy," he said. "If (young men) are getting into bad things and doing (bad) things, it is because we are misguiding them. It's about time they had media that helped build them up, and 'Honor Park' is ready to do that."
Visit the "Honor Park" Kickstarter page to back the project.