It was the next to last week of Making Media That Matters and I was already mourning. I don’t want it to end! I have very long, draining, tedious Fridays, full of meetings and deadlines; but when I walk into our film space, I feel joy in what I do. I’m a social worker and teacher, which means that my job often revolves around tense and difficult conversations and stories – the struggles of someone putting their life back together. So, walking into a space where I’m greeted with big grins, dancing teenagers, and snapchat selfies feels pretty fun.
I arrived early and chatted with the participants, who were busy creating their film sets. All 3 crews filmed in the collective this week, which took a little logistical planning. I headed into the back room, and walked right into a bedroom. “Whoa! This looks amazing!” I yelled. There was a fully-made bed, a lamp on a nightstand, and pictures on the wall. “I know, right?” one student answered, “It’s cuter than my own bedroom!”
Vera called us together for our opening circle and question. This week, I asked, “What has been your favorite part about this program?” (I told you I was feeling nostalgic!) Many mentors talked about the students’ creativity in writing stories, as well as watching students fall into their film roles (director, assistant director, editor, etc.). Several students mentioned that the relationships and friendships they’ve made are what will stick with them.
One student admitted that because she’d attended several film camps with Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking (prior to this program) she didn’t think she’d have a lot to learn, but she was wrong! (How cute is that?) Another student answered that watching her story idea come to life was thrilling. A mentor told us that her favorite part is watching the students gain confidence as the filming progresses. I agree with it all! I told the group that I LOVE the first day of filming; the excitement in the air, the furrowed brows, how they manage to work together and problem-solve…it’s hands-down my favorite part of MMTM.
Lisette broke down our evening for us, reminding everyone that since 3 production teams will be sharing a space, we need to be especially respectful of one another. She told us that we need to listen for cues like “Quiet on the set!” and “Cut!” so that the mics don’t pick up our chatter (or let’s face it – our giggles). They broke into their teams and the madness began!
I stayed in the main space at first, observing two of the teams. One group was still setting up the bedroom scene and rehearsing their first takes, and the other team was shooting some B-roll footage of props and of Vera, who plays the “teacher” in the film. I loved watching the director of the group instruct Vera, “Now pick it back up and place it down slllllllowly.” Vera complied. “Now do it again and put it down with more of a ‘thud’ and slightly to the right.” This went on for a while, and it was fabulous to see the director being so specific. She knew what she wanted, which is exactly what we want to see; women being assertive and confident. I moved into the next room to observe another team, a film about two sisters. They were gearing up to do a take. “Action!” was called and the scene began to unfold – sisters having a meal together and chatting. The assistant director got tickled and quickly turned around (away from the actors) to face me, her eyes wide, trying not to laugh out loud. This made me have to stifle giggles, and as soon as “cut!” was called, we all collapsed into laughter. The dialogue of this film is mostly improvised, so each take was different. The director kept asking the actors to shorten the dialogue, but with each take it remained long and wordy. I kept waiting for someone to get annoyed or irritated, but it honestly just got more and more amusing. With every take, we were laughing harder and harder, and having a difficult time keeping it together. These are the moments. These are the times I’ll remember. Eventually, they got the dialogue they were searching for, and we all took a pizza break together.