The Future is Wāhine - Filmmaking Program for Girls
a collaboration with La Pietra Hawaiʻi School for Girls
Clarissa Levai, Emily Smith, Inez Anderson, Jessie Hearther, Kristle Backe, Noa Helela
Day one started off with gratitude and appreciation for one of the most beautiful spaces we’ve had the pleasure to carry out programming in: La Pietra. Upon walking in and seeing what feels like the exact pillars and courtyards pictured in paintings of Sappho or the Muses, one can’t help but feel this need to make something. The beauty and the open space are invitations to create. To paint, draw, or write. Or to film.
And of course, film being the reason we are here, film is what we did. After introductions and taking in the space, we launched into community agreements and each group presented theirs to the room one by one. Respecting each other, paying attention, managing one’s time, asking questions, and having fun continue to show up on our main list and everything else is able to fall within those categories. Following a short break, Vera launches into a presentation on production, the three phases of the filmmaking process, and everything that each phase consists of. Each team has a moment beforehand to write out what they think are vital components of filmmaking and are able to share with the room throughout the presentation. Some teams continue to add to theirs with different markers and designs, making technical terms and processes appear more animated and colorful on paper.
The rest of the day sees the teams learning hands-on camera and getting some practice shots in before we close with a one-word thought on how we’re feeling about the week to come. These teams are excited, full of ideas, and ready to get out there. Stoked to see the process unfold.
Day two began with us continuing on with the technical aspects of filmmaking. After going over the agenda of the day, the teams go out onto the campus to get more practice shots and start practicing audio. There are already a few ideas percolating on where or what kind of setting would be best for each team’s film and one can find them trying different places out to see which fits best.
Once practice shots and audio are done, Vera gives us a short presentation on the basics of the editing process and the types of editing software available to participants. The next half hour has the mentors individually walking each team through the process. Before the next break, the teams learn about the roles that make up a standard production crew and they get a chance to sort out which roles they’ll each come to play in the next few days. They all also get an opportunity to practice slate and the various ways to call shots as a class.
The rest of the day sees participants working on the story. The teams spread out into different parts of the campus to brainstorm their stories and the logistics behind the films. Whether excited and walking around or contemplative and quiet, every participant clearly has their own process when it comes to figuring out what they want their film to be. Everyone has their own way of working and it eventually leads to something great.
We’re excited to see what gets created out of each of these processes
After a short opening and once over of the daily agenda, the teams are off to film. With a campus as large as this one, there appear to be endless options for locations. Each team has a different goal in mind when it comes to the social commentary they are trying to make or the questions they are trying to ask but one thing is abundantly clear: they are going to make the delivery as artistic and vibrant as possible. While sitting in my corner near the back of the room, I watch as one team brings a heap of costumes in that is so big it definitely could be someone’s wardrobe for the week.
In one section of the courtyard outside, I glance over to see someone with a white sheet draped over their face standing dead center of what I imagine is going to be a particularly eerie part of the film. In the main part of the courtyard, I watch one of the participants do take after take of them flopping around on the ground and pretending they’re an eraser; it has to be perfect after all. All the while, mentors are helping with sound, camera, some direction, and keeping everyone on schedule.
It’s pure creative drive reverberating off the old, Mediterranean-styled walls and through its entryways. Laughter, quick bites of food in between takes, “QUIET ON SET!”, and small breaks throughout the day are the fuel driving this work. It is with this energy that we close the third session and look forward to another day of mahi to come.
It’s become a familiar scene since Wednesday. Immediately after our check-in at the beginning of each session, the room quickly empties and everyone goes off to keep filming. With the exception of one team who is getting a lot of shots in and around the main room, it isn’t uncommon to walk in at any point during the day to find just me and Vera working on our laptops. The day before one could hear birds chirping in the stillness and the heat and the next day it’s like a wind tunnel through the halls and doorways. In the middle of all the natural world colliding with artificial and concrete, the sound of slippers hitting the pavement, uncontrollable laughter, acting cues, and “action!” can also be heard. Occasionally there will be a moment to come in and hammer some editing out in between takes but otherwise, it remains rather empty. Quiet.
La Pietra perched at the foot of Lēʻahi. A school that feels like it just evades the non-stop hustle and madness of Honolulu. A few minutes walk through the park into the heart of town and one already finds themselves wanting to run back to the quiet. It’s a setting unlike any I’ve ever been in. Many of us feel the same coming from busy schedules and surroundings. Wrestling for sidewalk space in downtown or right outside ones house if Waikīkī is the home base. To be in a place this seemingly still. Rich in green and what looks like stucco. A whole world away from what’s just outside the walls. No wonder the participants are excited. Working hard. Diligent in their storyboarding, script-writing, and editing. With all this space to brainstorm and explore, it makes a lot of sense. The mind has room to wander and try things out. I’m sure we’ll get to see this firsthand once the showcase rolls around.