Ready, set, action!
We definitely kicked things up a notch for this week’s Making Media That Matters! After last week’s more mellow session, we decided as a staff to make sure this session had more action – meaning interactive group rotations and a range of activities.
As the students arrived, many of us shared that this had been yet another rough week. However, I think you could feel our excitement as a staff to begin the day and get moving.The girls mentioned that many of them were on Fall Break and weren’t sure how many folks would show up – but, to our pleasant surprise, almost everyone was able to join us and seemed just as excited as we were! We had talked as a staff about the need to ground ourselves more, so Kristle led us in a special activity to open the space. Once everyone was settled, we sat on the floor in a circle and Kristle had us do a series of deep breaths together, then take some time to reflect on the question “Why am I here?” She prompted us to think about how and why we ended up in the MMTM program and how special this type of space is. Folks shared a variety of answers, some touching on professional film goals, some mentioning the importance of creative expression, others talking about the support they feel in this space. It was an extremely calming and centering activity and, at least for myself, fostered a great deal of gratitude for the girls and staff involved in MMTM.
After our opening circle, Kristle passed the mic to me to introduce our activities for the day. It was a bit hard switching gears from our emotional opening to a more technical run through of the session, but I tried my best to hype up the energy and share the excitement I was feeling for the day. I let the girls know that they would be splitting up into their production crews to do three 30-minute rotations together: dialogue, film content & camera. Since one group was missing, we decided to start with dialogue & film content, then do camera all at the same time afterwards. We let them know that we would like to see a finished script by the next session and encouraged them to use the activities to help jumpstart that process. After about 10 minutes in their groups, we transitioned right into the rotations.
I got the chance to help Noa with the dialogue writing portion and it was a lot of fun! Noa started out by sharing some advice: every line should be telling something about your character. With that in mind, she asked the girls to write five questions and answers from one character to another. Each girl wrote her own for the character/s in their group’s film. One group is focusing on social anxiety and they had some great real-life examples of how anxiety plays out in our everyday interactions. There was a range of internal and external dialogue, with many of the answers centering on second-guessing oneself and/or lying in order to avoid conflict. One example was Q: “Do you want to go to the party tonight?” A: “Sure!” (internal dialogue: “No I don’t!). Even though the activity was meant to be inspiration for their actual dialogue, Noa and I were both impressed by how professional their “rough drafts” were. They seemed ready to go!
After a little over 30 minutes, we took a short break and then switched groups. Our second group was equally talented in the dialogue department and Noa had them try another activity. This time they wrote five statements in their character’s voice and, once again, had some great examples of both internal and external statements. A few brave souls shared and the common theme seemed to be around how we talk to ourselves and how we respond to others. One girl asked “Does anyone else refer to themselves as ʻwe’?” Then we talked and laughed about all the different ways we each talk to ourselves. After a little more sharing, we wrapped up and ate a few snacks together. We talked story while waiting for the other group to finish and one girl shared some R&B artists with me that I’m excited to check out.
At the beginning of the session, we had shared that our main focus was to work on storyboarding and finishing their scripts. With that in mind, we made sure to stay on track with the time and activities we had set for the day. Marie & Val prepped the girls by walking them through a PowerPoint on key film content, such as character development, screenplay development and how to form their story arc. That then led perfectly into our camera activity: to film one scene. The girls hadn’t had very much camera time until this point, but we all agreed learning by doing is the best way. Ready, set, action!
At this point, a few of the girls from the third production team had also arrived so we had a larger group. We had about 30-40 minutes to make sure everyone completed one scene and we certainly had our work cut out for us! Val & Ginger took one group and Kristle & I took another. Marie and Noa floated between the two groups, stepping in to support in different areas. Kristle & I took our group outside in front of Impact HUB and luckily it had just stopped raining. We quickly realized that this was going to take longer than expected, but went with the flow and jumped in. We made sure each girl knew their role (director, talent, audio, etc.) and then started preparing to film. I got the help one of the girls with audio and it was a great refresher for me, as it’s been years since I’ve done any audio work! We figured out a lot of it together, then Kristle helped us with the recording settings and reminded us what to keep our ears/eyes on. We did a few test runs and then finally were ready for action! The girls filmed a POV scene portraying an awkward handshake and were able to finish in about two to three takes. By the last take everyone had a clear vision of the scene and a better understanding of their role in the film. We laughed a lot with each other and, though it wasn’t a perfect cut, it felt good to work together and watch the girls thrive as a team. It feels like they’re ready for the real thing!
We all came back together in the room after the camera rotation and reviewed a few things as a full group. Val & Marie reviewed their film content and specified what the girls will need to start filming: shot list, storyboard, etc. We all chimed in with some tips and best practices, then let the girls talk in their groups and make a plan for how they were going to finish everything for next session. They exchanged information with each other and the conversations were flowing. I overheard conversations about their characters, exciting ideas for scenes and even some friendly sharing of social media accounts. After a few minutes, we asked everyone to circle up again to close.
We sat on the floor again for our closing, something we felt brought a little more of a family feel to the group. I led the closing this time and asked them to reflect on the session and their film, then answer “What impact do I want my film to have?” Similar to the opening, the girls were very open and honest with their sharing. I was touched by how many of them mentioned wanting the audience to not feel alone in whatever they’re struggling with. There was an overwhelming feeling of aloha in the room and I could feel the positive energy these young women are each bringing to their projects. They hope to have a positive impact not only on the viewers, but also on themselves – and I am so inspired by their path to making media that matters.