• Katie Caldwell

Making Media That Matters Session 2!

“Decide what you want. Believe you can have it. Don't let anything get in your way.”

- Heidi Schulz

It's our second session of Making Media That Matters and students and staff are buzzing around the Hawai'i Filmaker's Collective in Kaimuki, setting up and getting ready. I was really excited about this session, as the staff had planned hard to work out some of the "kinks" from the last session. This is all about growing and learning and expanding our perspectives...even for the staff!

The students seem a little less timid of one another this week, and the space is filled with the dull roar of teenage squeals and voices. I set up camp in the front of the room so that I could watch all of the madness. Some of the girls were dancing to the Alicia Keys music playing, some were sitting on the floor in groups gabbing about school or film, and some were quietly sitting off to the side, playing on their phones or drawing in a notebook. I watched our staff photographers, Valeria and Malia, as they wandered around the space snapping photos, and I saw a few of the girls self-consciously shy away from the camera. It

shot me right back to 7th grade as an awkward, geeky girl with frizzy hair, buck teeth, and a huge nose. I hated when my parents took my picture and would even hide my official school pictures from them until the deadline had passed. I think of how different this world is to the one I grew up in; how anyone can just whip out a cell phone and snap a pic and upload it to facebook or snapchat for anyone and everyone to view. How HARD must it be to be a teenager in today's world? I have a gripping feeling of gratefulness that I grew up as a young girl without cell phones or instagram. Eventually Vera called us together and we sat in a big circle on the floor, cross-legged. We introduced

ourselves, what pronoun we prefered, and participated in the ice breaker (If you were a sea creature, what sea creature would you be?) Some of the answers to the sea creature questions were hilarious and some were thoughtful; with girls desiring to be a box jellyfish, coral, or a dolphin because "I'm cute and social!" :) Another mentioned she would like to be the largest whale in the ocean, a blue whale, because she wanted to "take up space." We all sort of sat with that statement for a minute, abosorbing its profoundness.

Our staff member Maddie explained our first activity of the night: we would break into two groups and oscillate between writing and talking exercises to get us thinking about story. Stories are the backbones of filmmaking and we want to teach the girls how to tap into the stories that matter to them the most. We moved into our groups and settled in. Our group began by completing a freewrite for one minute on this

question: Think of a time that felt unfair - when someone with power over you used that power to make you feel unheard, or used it to create a kind of injustice in your life?

We wrote for one minute together then shared aloud (if we wished to do so). The girls were actively invested in the conversation and their stories were compelling. Many stories of bullying, sexism, racism, and sexual harrassment came out. I sighed inwardly. Sometimes it feels as if women are making so much progress in the world, then I hear the same issues that I faced as a teen girl (and still face as a grown woman) being echoed in today's youth. What's that saying? "The more things change, the more they stay the same?" Indeed.

I'm impressed with the girls' vulnerability however, and how they showed such kind support to one another. We moved on to a free-writing session about everything we had just heard and absorbed. The room was quiet with thoughts and the light sounds of scrawling in notebooks.

After I heard others share, it made me recall things that happened when I was much younger - closer to the students' age. When you're an adult, you tend to sort of bury or stifle things that hurt you in your childhood. The truth is, if we can think of things that happened 5, 10, 20, even 30 years ago, then it DOES still hurt and it DOES still matter.

Noa, one of the group facilitators, asked us a different question to reflect on: What gives you mana? What makes you feel powerful?

I loved this question. We all want these girls to feel, understand, and own their power in this space we've

created. We took a few minutes to write our answers then shared again with one another. Many of the girls shared physical things that make them feel powerful: softball, running, basketball, hiking. Others shared that their art gives them mana. One would think that teenagers might be focused on the material; what they possess or what their parents possess. Or maybe on appearance, since females are long taught that beauty is an endlessly important goal (and because beauty for many females IS power) but that never came up, not once. A few girls mentioned others' stories or experiences as powerful to them, and I think this envokes the empathy and understanding they have as humans and as wome