It’s the day after final screening of the films from Making Media That Matters, and I’m still flying high on the goodness of our concluding evening together. I got to the space early to help set up, but Vera had it all under control and ready to go (I’m convinced she doesn’t sleep). I loved watching the participants stroll in with their parents, as sometimes the resemblance between parent and child was overwhelming. The students quickly ditched the ‘rents and ran to their friends, and pretty soon the place was filled with excited family members, bored siblings, and nervous participants. 😊
Our small space filled up quickly, and I wandered around to chat with the students. Most of them were a little anxious to show their films, and one even told me that they hadn’t yet seen the final project (the editors and directors of the films often work overtime to complete the movie without the rest of the crew). One of the participants brought leis for the entire staff and all of the other participants, which was incredibly thoughtful. I asked the main actress of one of the films if she was nervous to see herself onscreen, and she nodded yes with widened eyes. “I just hope it looks and sounds real,” she said, “and not like a bad play.” I laughed, gave her a hug, and told her that she would be brilliant.
At 6pm on the dot, Vera gathered us together to begin. She started by thanking everyone for participating, for attending the evening’s event, and by taking the time to thank each staff member individually. Vera spoke about the creative process and why encouraging girls to tell their stories is so important. Everyone was anxiously awaiting the screening of the films, so we dimmed the lights and the first movie began to roll! The first film was called Content Over Cover and was about two unlikely friends in high school. One is into sports and skateboarding, and the other is into fashion. They find some common ground in the bathroom at school and skate off into the sunset together. The film was edited beautifully and I was impressed with little nuances that made the film unique…like the amazing music selection for different scenes. At the end, they had a “bloopers” feature that was hilarious and had us all laughing. It’s fun to not only get to witness the students work on the film behind the camera, but to watch them act in front of the camera, as well. After the film, all the filmmakers were called up front to answer questions. The lead actress (who is a director of another film with MMTM) mentioned that she believes acting made her a better director; she learned how to give more explicit direction and discovered how it feels to be in the more vulnerable role of the actor. What an amazing and astute way to learn! The rest of the crew discussed working together and the difficulties of editing and making the story line clear. We gave them a big round of applause, and then moved on to the next film. As the next film began, I could see all of the faces of the students that worked on it…some looked elated and some looked nervous. This movie, Yoonëk, was about 2 sisters. (These stories might sound familiar if you’ve been following the blog!) The older sis is an established artist, and her younger sister is a closeted artist, always feeling like she’s in her sister’s shadow. The older sister discovers the younger one’s talent and encourages her to enter an art contest. I watched much of this movie being filmed and wondered how it would turn out. The storyline was simple and sweet, and I adore that it shows women supporting women. All too often, women are labeled as “catty” or “competitive” with no nuanced discussion of how or why that might be. But womanhood truly is a sisterhood, and I see evidence of female support everywhere I turn in this program. I like that their film represented this. The filmmakers all gathered in the front of the room to answers questions and talk about their film. This was the largest group of MMTM, and they relayed that because of their size, they had to work hard to listen to one another and make certain that everyone’s ideas were heard and validated.
The third and last film, Traculus, began, and the audience really seemed to react to its originality. This film is creative and abstract, featuring a young woman (one of our own staff members!) as a high school student; distracted and fantasizing about food during a timed exam. The film shows the student drawing pictures of food absent-mindedly on her test, then suddenly, the food appears on her desk and she begins to devour it decadently. After the film was over, the filmmakers gathered to take their turn at answering the audience’s questions. This group is full of comediennes, so they had us giggling and laughing the entire time. I asked about the music selection and one of the participants answered, “Well, they left it up to me. And if you leave it up to me, you’re going to get a film set to a sitar.” 😝 They even joked that they wrote in the scenes about food because they just really wanted to eat pie and ice cream on set. They explained the process of stop-motion and how long and laborious it was, and discussed the process of making the drawings come to life. And then, we were finished! Vera thanked everyone for coming and concluded our screening. Everyone lingered afterward, and I made sure to hug students and meet parents. I told one Mom how fantastically smart and creative her daughter is, and she beamed with pride and enveloped me in a giant bear hug. I’m sure hearing that about your child never gets old! Another Mom came up to tell me that her daughter always talks about the “girl that tells funny cat stories” at MMTM (guilty!) and that she just had to meet me because of this! 😊 I will truly miss these quirky, intelligent, hilarious, and talented students. After we put away the folding chairs and cleaned up the space, the staff gathered for one final group picture and to say goodbye. Hugs all around! I will sincerely miss the staff, the participants, and the laughs. MMTM is an amazingly special program that gives teenage girls confidence, a unique skill, and a venue in which to tell their story. I am delighted to have been a part of it. Here’s to next year!