Racial Justice Reel Camp Summer 2022

day-by-day + films produced

Day 1

The first day of our Racial Justice Reel Camp is quite the busy one. With participants filling the space and getting to know each other well before our start time, we begin our opening circle early and start to learn more about one another. Our social worker Pumehana introduces all of us to the ahupua`a that we are holding our reel camp on and through this acknowledgement reminds us all that this is indeed Kānaka Maoli land. After guiding us through introductions in `ōlelo hawai`i and everyone sharing a bit about where we come from as well as the places we call home, we delve into the creation of our community agreements document. Every participant adds an agreement to their papers during this time, creating a braid of accountability, trust, and the understanding that we will respect and take care of each other and ourselves while sharing this space together for the week. 

After our community agreements and a brief exercise focusing on personal perceptions and reflections of race given by Akiemi Glenn of The Pōpolo Project, we have a short lunch before diving right into a lecture on camera and hands on practice with the film equipment. The lectures and practice sessions seem to zoom by, with a lecture on film genres and a writing activity quickly following behind. Though a fast-paced day, the participants are along for the ride at every stop. 

Earlier in the session, Akiemi reminds the room of the importance of coming to these projects and our communities as a whole from our own experiences; to let that be our guide when interacting and creating with people. As we close the day with our circle and some small reflections, it’s evident this reminder has been taken to heart. We have a room full of participants who are excited to tell their stories and listen to others as they do the same.

Looking forward to seeing and hearing every single one.

Day 2

We begin our second day with conversations regarding race and ethnicity in film. With Akiemi and Pumehana leading us through the presentation, participants are given not only a wide range of possibilities when it comes to the types of subject matter and focus, but they are also shown that there are multiple genres in which to explore them through. From being Chinese growing up in the American South to questions surrounding Kānaka identity and wrestling between staying in the homeland or moving thousands of miles away to New York City, race, ethnicity, and belonging are complex, layered, and constantly shifting realities. These examples, as well as the short film “VOICE,” allowed participants the opportunity to think hard on what genre/lens best fits their stories and what stories they think need telling. 

After this presentation, the rest of the day is spent going back and forth between lectures on editing, production roles, and expectations, and hands-on practice and planning. The biggest event of the day was definitely when groups began the process of storyboarding and script writing. Having received ample instruction by Aleta and Keana on what a solid storyboard is comprised of and what one can expect from having such a valuable resource on hand throughout the filmmaking process, participants took their time assembling themselves into teams and then *boom*-- straight into storyboarding. Some teams seemed to already have dialogue written by the day’s end and are well on their way to getting in those first shots of their film.

We end the session with excitement in the room. It’s only the second day and already participants are shaping their movies! I can only imagine the awesome stuff that’s going to come out of this.

Day 3

Our third session marks the official beginning of production for the crews. After our opening circle and a short but important reminder on pronouns, safety, and mindfulness, Vera walks us through the stages of the filmmaking process once more. Now that the teams have assembled and found the people and stories they want to work with, actually getting to work with those people and those stories is the main objective for today and tomorrow. In these next two days, the space transforms pretty rapidly from Ka Waiwai to whatever world(s) the crews need them to be: a bedroom, classroom, stage, living room, or the entrance to a school if folks decide to film outside. As befitting a space that is a literal circle, Ka Waiwai has been through several rebirths and cycles with these imagined settings taking temporary root time and time again. I can’t think of a better place to produce these short films on such powerful topics and discussions.

The majority of the day is spent going over the storyboard and getting some of the first shots of the films done. Filming multiple things in a shared space at the same time can be tricky and requires communication and patience. Thankfully our community agreements and what I think is a healthy sense of respect and appreciation for one another as creatives/human beings ultimately ensures that communication and patience are steady presences in the room the entire time. Everyone is able to get a few shots in before the day’s end.

We end the day with a question for the participants to take home with them and marinate on a little. Pumehana asks folks to think about what they want to explore with the films they’re making. Specifically, what are folks curious about exploring? Even if we know some of the core parts of something, there is always room for wonder. Especially when creating. 

 I look forward to seeing some of that wonder in the days to come.

Day 4