Can it be possible that it’s already week 5 of Making Media That Matters?!?! I always marvel at how quickly the program speeds along, as it seems like we just began! We began our evening with our traditional opening circle, and asked everyone to answer the question, “If you could knock one item off your bucket list right now, what would it be?” The answers, as always, were fun and creative. From skydiving to starting a punk band to traveling to Iceland to eat a whale, every answer was unique or hilarious. ☺
We began our evening with a presentation by Grace, from Planned Parenthood.
Grace started by asking us if we would stand up and shake our limbs one-by-one together. We obliged dutifully, and shook, shook, shook our arms and legs and heads in unison. We sat back down, and Grace went over some of the ways in which Planned Parenthood assists women, then moved into a discussion around the issue of consent. Grace talked about how we often automatically give consent and respect to people in positions of authority, or even to people who are older, without even questioning if it’s something we really want to do. She used our body-shaking exercise as an example…most of us simply followed her orders to stand up and shake our limbs, instead of thinking about what we were doing and why. (Sneaky…but effective, Grace!) ☺
It can be difficult to talk to a group of teenagers about consent. Actually, it can be difficult to talk to anyone about the issue of consent. Statistics show that in a group of girls this size, in this age range (12-18 yrs), some are already sexually active. Others may have already experienced some form of sexual violence, so this talk is massively important. Grace defined sexual violence for the group, and I especially liked that she discussed consent within the context of coercion. Coercion is widely misunderstood and commonly used as a manipulation tool. We talked about protecting ourselves and what consent should sound/look like, then Grace showed a video made by the students of Kapiolani Community College, using shave ice as an instrument in which to demonstrate consent. Lastly, Grace gave each of us a package of candy and asked us to turn to the person sitting next to us. Our partner had to refuse or accept the candy, practicing consent. Then, we switched! Grace asked the group how it felt to say no or yes. A student mentioned that it can be hard to say no because they like to say yes to people. Many of us nodded, knowingly; girls and women often absorb the societal message that we need to please others. Someone else stated that it felt empowering, because both people had control in the situation. Grace ended the presentation by reminding us that practicing consent and getting used to verbalizing how we truly feel is a great exercise.
Next, we moved on to our film lesson for the night, conducted by Elliana. We covered many topics that evening: shots, cuts, transitions, movement, camera angles…but perhaps the most important was the lesson of why. Elliana asked us to ask “why” questions in every aspect of filming or in setting up shots. Why am I using this lens? Why am I putting the camera here? Why is this shot necessary to evoke the emotion I’m trying to convey? I loved this idea. It’s such a simple concept, but a great reminder that each decision in the filmmaking process is motivated by a desired outcome or response.
Lisette then took over the lesson to describe productions teams, defining each role for our students so they can start to get an idea of what position they might want to take on. We learned the duties of the director, assistant director, producer, screenwriter, storyboard artist, director of photography, sound recordist, and editor. Lisette described each role in detail, outlining some qualities that a person might possess to be a good “fit” for each role. Even I, the staff social worker, was trying to decide what position in which I would work best! :P I love that I learn something new about film every week, along with the participants.
The evening was wrapping up, but Lisette had one last film exercise for the students. In their individual production teams, they were told to convey the same story: A girl is waiting for the bus, but gets distracted by something and misses the bus. Each team was given a different emotion to portray, just 10 minutes to complete the exercise, and an iphone in which to take 5 pictures of their story. Every production team had to fill in the pukas of the story in their own creative way, and capture it on film, using the different shots we learned about that evening (wide shot, over-the-shoulder shot, extreme close up, medium shot, etc.). The room immediately burst into activity with ideas, girls standing on chairs, shouting, and laughter. I sat back in my chair and just watched, thoroughly amused at the crazy scene unfolding in front of me. After 10 minutes of creative insanity, each group presented their story and photos. One group had a main character that dropped mints on the ground, but decided to eat them anyway. This caused her to miss her bus. A friendly “dog” (played hilariously by one of the students) sidetracked another group’s character, and a “cat” (also played by a student) preoccupied the last group’s main character. It was fun to see which shots they chose and why (always asking that question of why!). After the last group presented, we all collapsed into our chairs in a fit of laughter, and Vera ended the evening. Another MMTM week in the books, and I’m certain the next will fly by just as quickly.