Residents of the Kenilworth/Parkside section of Northeast Washington, angered by the pervasive influence of drugs on some neighborhood youngsters, finally found a way of getting young people off the street and involved in more constructive activities.

With traditional approaches to solving the problem proving unsuccessful, the Kenilworth/Parkside Resident Management Corp. came up with the novel idea of producing a videotape.

The result was "In My Dreams," a 22-minute, broadcast-quality videotape dramatizing the dangers of drug abuse and its effect on the community.

The video, part drama and part documentary, was the product of "A Cinematic Summer," a program through which high school-age youngsters were taught the technical aspects of making films and videos. As a requirement of the project, the teen-agers wrote, directed and starred in the video, which received its first public screening this month before an audience of 100 at McKinley High School.

Sponsored by the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development and the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services Administration, the project was the brainchild of Dr. Alice Murray, director of the Kenilworth/Parkside Substance Abuse Project.

The project, a locally based drug prevention program, is a branch of the Kenilworth/Parkside Resident Management Corp.

Participation in the "Cinematic Summer" was not unlike that of a summer job for the teen-agers, who were paid for their work by the D.C. government.

However, the 14 students who "graduated" from the program received educational rewards as well.

Murray said the project has generated community support and interest.

"The Kenilworth-Parkside community is one which has had a severe history of drug problems, and they have been looking for ways to combat it for some time. The idea was to get the kids involved in the antidrug effort, too," she said.

"Producing a video seemed like an excellent way for the kids in the community to demonstrate their point of view for other kids to see. We were also very fortunate to find talented, dedicated people to help us produce the video, who were as committed to the success of the project as we were," she added.

The video depicts several situations in which teen-agers must deal with the effects of drugs on themselves or friends. In one scene, a bright, popular high school student is urged by his girlfriend to stop doing drugs before "it's too late."

She forces her troubled boyfriend to decide between drug abuse and their future together. In the end, he attends a party with his drug-using "buddies" and dies of an overdose.

What follows is a moving sequence of events portraying the ways his friends and family are left to cope with his death.

Plans are being made to distribute the videotape in the D.C. public school system and in mobile drug units.

"We'd like to have the video shown in junior high school and high school health classes early in the coming year," Murray said.

Imani Film and Video Productions provided technical assistance for the project, helping to teach the students the basics of lighting, sound, scriptwriting and directing. The 14 students selected to participate reported at 8 o'clock every morning for work on the project, which ran from mid-June until late August.

In addition to daily instruction by Imani's Joy Shannon, the project included periodic lectures and demonstrations by local filmmakers.

"I think the biggest reward for the students was for them to find they could make a videotape that allowed them to 'say no to drugs' that was a quality effort they could be proud of," Shannon said. "For me, the reward was to be able to help provide a start for a group of potential young black filmmakers."

For the students who took part in the production, such as Anthony Weldon, 17, the experience promises to pay off in other ways. "There's no question that {being able to participate in the program} helped my confidence. I've always loved to play music, but until now I didn't feel I was ready to show my talents to the public," said Weldon, a keyboard player who wrote and performed the musical score for "In My Dreams" and starred in the video.

"The video has given me inspiration, and I'm hoping this leads to more opportunities for me. But even if it doesn't, I was able to get experience acting and writing music that I didn't have before," he said.