In the latest session of Making Media that Matters, Vera had the idea of starting off the meeting outside of the classroom in the courtyard, as the space we use to conduct the activities leaves us members going home as human popsicles. (Read: the air conditioner is working overtime)
Crystal, a grad student intern with Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking, began the session with a getting-to-know-you game that encouraged us to find commonalities with each other. We broke up in two groups of 5, and were asked to find 10 commonalities between us. Whoever found 10 commonalities first would win.
As we split up, a flurry of questions engulfed the courtyard. It was an amusing chaos. Questions like, “Have we all had a dog?” to “Do we all have our ears pierced?” bounced around with equal “Yes!’” and “No!” in response.
The group I was placed in had a few interesting findings among the members. We wore black, we have met diverse people, we have our natural hair showing, we own slippers, we take off our slippers when entering the house, we’ve had pets, etc. As we were the first group to find our commonalities, we won!
After the game was over, Noa and Serena had us continue our character creation. Unlike the previous session (where we built a character from our imagination), it was now time to give them life. The leaders had us take turns thinking of places, things, and actions that we perform on a daily basis. We would eventually either apply these actions to our characters, or simply use them as a reference to further build complex characters. While everyone scribbled in a frenzy to make their characters plausible, I could only imagine what they were going to come up with.
I pictured stories about damsels, heroines, imaginative personas with tender hearts and kind souls...but instead once again I was hit with a fabulous surprise. Instead of creating fictitious people with legends or fantasy, their stories were that of an everyday woman: realistic life goals, in logical places and situations, and real dilemmas and hardships. The characters had unique life stories with interesting quirks or talents. One of the stories was about a girl who was extremely kind, (though not meek), but with great love and talent for math. Another story was about the life of a girl in a hospital, fading in and out of consciousness and going into a dimension where she temporarily leaves her body to explore the hospital.
After sharing our creative ideas, the group took a break to eat pizza and red-velvet cupcakes.
The assignment for the last session was to bring or email a photo to Daní of a person, object, or event that represents social justice. Unfortunately, Dani wasn’t able to make the last week’s segment, so the assignment was pushed for today.
A few participants volunteered to present their findings. Some of them chose to present women who stood up for social justice or those who had been successful in a male-dominated industry, yet most of the attendees showed pictures of recent rallies and protests. The girls talked about how much these events shaped their lives and how it had affected them. What shook me was how many of them began to share the events they had participated in them. Some mentioned how they took part in the Women’s March, while others walked during pro-choice rallies… I was stunned.
When I was a teenager, I was worried about final exams, possible acceptance into college, and whether or not friendships would last past graduation. It's been only 4 years since I graduated from high school and I can already see the massive changes that have taken place. These women are smarter, faster, and will probably reach further than I will when it comes to equality and equity in this world. They were teens when they realized equality is not upheld within the U.S. and they decided not only to form education opinions, but to stand for what they believe in and voice their opinions out loud for the world to see. While politics, environmental issues, and other problems are going on throughout the world, this display of confidence and commitment gives me hope that eventually our society will take notice of women and their power.
Laurie took on the next portion of the session by bringing our wandering minds to our overall goal: Making Media that Matters. She gave us concrete parameters in order to achieve professional and meaningful plots and characters. After the instructions, she showed us examples of what we see every day and what we need to see more of. The first one was a music video by Chet Faker, called “Gold” wherein the lyrics talk about sensual feelings towards a woman and that he “never loved her.” The video itself is a hypnotizing visual of women dancing while roller skating, in an open road to nowhere. While the video was visually appealing it had no true context, no deep story and seemingly pleasing aesthetics. The second film was a movie called “Blank Projections,” produced during a former MMTM program organized by Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking. The production showed a series of images being projected onto a faceless woman. The projections were images of models, fruits and vegetables, weight loss, and other things we deem beautiful.
Before Laurie had any time to initiate a discussion question, the room erupted with mindful opinions. Some of the students chose to comment on how the music video was portraying ridiculous beauty standards women are expected to uphold in today's society, while the other video was a cry for reality and acceptance. It seemed that the videos were related - one scenario begetting the other. Others believed the first video could possibly have a deeper meaning behind it and that the “Blank Projections” project was a display of women’s plight within the entertainment industry.
While there are many causes, and reasons women are coming together, never before have I seen such a determined group of young women who band together to discuss the greater societal barriers among people. Rather than looking only for financial stability and personal success, Hawaii Women in Filmmaking desires proper representation, as well as increased understanding and justice for those with obstacles placed against them. Together, we are flourishing with insight, perseverance, and humanitarianism.
It's a stunning sight to see such characteristics in people.