Making Media That Matters
June 22 - July 30, 2015
week 1 - the beginning of making media that matters
Starting on June 22, 2015, we kicked off our Making Media That Matters (MMTM) film program at the Arts at Mark’s Garage in Chinatown, Honolulu. MMTM is a 6 week long program that meets twice a week (Mondays and Thursday) from 1:30 – 4 pm. The main goal of the program – though far from the only goal – is to produce stories that we (the women filmmakers) want the world to see from our perspectives. To start the program off we did a series of icebreaker activities in order to become acquainted with each other and to start to slowly foster a safe and comfortable creative environment.
week 2 - Transition into film
The second week of MMTM picked up where we left off as we turned our attention once more to Miss Representation. Rather than talking about the initial impact the movie had on us, we started to focus on what kind of message it sent to us, and what kind of message it made us want to create ourselves. We asked ourselves questions like,
“Who are we to judge each other as women?”
“Are the ways women are portrayed in the media accurate to our own lives, and if not how do they differ?”
“What is the influence that causes us to know that this objectification of women in order to market to men is wrong?”
“What do you, as a woman, care about?” and most importantly,
“If you had the opportunity to make a story that matters to you, what would it be about?”
week 3 - Brainstorming
From the discussions we had been having over the first few weeks, the program mentors noticed two prominent themes: the complexity and strength of women. The girls agreed that while these themes are somewhat vague and overarching, they allow enough of a direction as well as flexibility to be explored through film. The girls then split into two groups and started to brainstorm how they would address their respective themes. Seeing that the program is under a time crunch, the mentors decided to give the groups obstructions in order to limit their movies into manageable projects given the short amount of production time they have. The first obstruction pertains to what type of film the groups wanted to make. They had the opportunity to choose between documentary, experimental, or a narrative film. The rest of the obstructions dealt with semantics of the film such as their length (5 minutes or less) or the amount of characters (1-3 people unless given an exception). The main point being driven home here is the idea of simplicity – work with what you have and keep it simple.
week 4 - The technicalities of film
Week 3 was largely dedicated to the technicalities of filmmaking. Now that we had all sufficiently brainstormed and created a general idea of what we wanted our films to look like, the next step was how to bring this movie to fruition. To start it off, we did a group reading of a few pages from the screenplay of the hit movie Little Miss Sunshine. We deconstructed the anatomy of a page in a screenplay by covering the basics. “The basics” includes things like knowing that the top line contains location and time and specifies between whether the scene is being shot inside or outside. After the header comes action cues to dictate what the actors themselves are doing and finally the actual dialogue of the scene. After we read through the scene, we then watched the clip from the movie and compared and contrasted the difference between the scene on the page and the scene on the screen. This side by side analysis allowed us to see how certain things change in the filming process or how sometimes you have to portray things in alternate ways in order to get the desired outcome.
week 5 - Team strength and the interviewing process
People rarely think about the technicalities that go into filming a documentary. Film is tedious. You have to set up the camera and the sound equipment just right and then make sure that they sync up together in order to make your post-production process just a little bit easier. You have to make sure that if you’re filming in the same spot on a different day that you know where all the equipment was today so you can replicate the shot for continuity in the film. You have to take into account outside background noise that obstructs the sound quality of the interview. You have to make sure that you place the interviewer at the right proximity to the camera so that when the subject naturally looks at the interviewer during the interview, it will look like they are looking at the camera enough to be aesthetically pleasing in the film. These are only a few of the intricacies that come with filming an interview for your documentary film, and the strength group encountered all of them on their first day of filming.
week 6 - Team complexity and the process of experimental film
While the Strength group chose to do a documentary style, the Complexity group decided that an experimental style film would allow them to convey their message better. A day of filming for the Complexity group differs vastly from that of the Strength group. Where the Strength group practiced meticulous organization and placement of everything, the Complexity group’s filming process was more improved and changing constantly as shooting demanded it to. The result of these extreme differences, are two very different films, but they both ultimately play to the same effect. It is interesting to observe how people relay different messages.
Strong Women 101
2015 Summer MMTM was made possible thanks to the generous support of the
Hawai‘i Women Legal Foundation