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Making Media That Matters #5

Can it be possible that it’s already week 5 of Making Media That Matters?!?! I always marvel at how quickly the program speeds along, as it seems like we just began! We began our evening with our traditional opening circle, and asked everyone to answer the question, “If you could knock one item off your bucket list right now, what would it be?” The answers, as always, were fun and creative. From skydiving to starting a punk band to traveling to Iceland to eat a whale, every answer was unique or hilarious. ☺

We began our evening with a presentation by Grace, from Planned Parenthood. Grace started by asking us if we would stand up and shake our limbs one-by-one together. We obliged dutifully, and shook, shook, shook our arms and legs and heads in unison. We sat back down, and Grace went over some of the ways in which Planned Parenthood assists women, then moved into a discussion around the issue of consent. Grace talked about how we often automatically give consent and respect to people in positions of authority, or even to people who are older, without even questioning if it’s something we really want to do. She used our body-shaking exercise as an example…most of us simply followed her orders to stand up and shake our limbs, instead of thinking about what we were doing and why. (Sneaky…but effective, Grace!) ☺

Next, we moved on to our film lesson for the night, conducted by Elliana. We covered many topics that evening: shots, cuts, transitions, movement, camera angles…but perhaps the most important was the lesson of why. Elliana asked us to ask “why” questions in every aspect of filming or in setting up shots. Why am I using this lens? Why am I putting the camera here? Why is this shot necessary to evoke the emotion I’m trying to convey? I loved this idea. It’s such a simple concept, but a great reminder that each decision in the filmmaking process is motivated by a desired outcome or response.

Lisette then took over the lesson to describe productions teams, defining each role for our students so they can start to get an idea of what position they might want to take on. We learned the duties of the director, assistant director, producer, screenwriter, storyboard artist, director of photography, sound recordist, and editor. Lisette described each role in detail, outlining some qualities that a person might possess to be a good “fit” for each role. Even I, the staff social worker, was trying to decide what position in which I would work best! :P I love that I learn something new about film every week, along with the participants.

The evening was wrapping up, but Lisette had one last film exercise for the students. In their individual production teams, they were told to convey the same story: A girl is waiting for the bus, but gets distracted by something and misses the bus. Each team was given a different emotion to portray, just 10 minutes to complete the exercise, and an iphone in which to take 5 pictures of their story. Every production team had to fill in the pukas of the story in their own creative way, and capture it on film, using the different shots we learned about that evening (wide shot, over-the-shoulder shot, extreme close up, medium shot, etc.). The room immediately burst into activity with ideas, girls standing on chairs, shouting, and laughter. I sat back in my chair and just watched, thoroughly amused at the crazy scene unfolding in front of me.

After 10 minutes of creative insanity, each group presented their story and photos. One group had a main character that dropped mints on the ground, but decided to eat them anyway. This caused her to miss her bus. A friendly “dog” (played hilariously by one of the students) sidetracked another group’s character, and a “cat” (also played by a student) preoccupied the last group’s main character. It was fun to see which shots they chose and why (always asking that question of why!). After the last group presented, we all collapsed into our chairs in a fit of laughter, and Vera ended the evening. Another MMTM week in the books, and I’m certain the next will fly by just as quickly.

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