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Making Media That Matters #10

The pressure is on as we reach our remaining weeks at Making Media That Matters! Every second is accounted for, from the moment we walk through the doors right up until 7pm (most times 7:05 pm as the parents may have noticed). Tonight’s session was focused on finalizing stories, solidifying characters, creating shot lists, and planning the logistics of the next few weeks of filming.

We started the evening as we usually do, with an opening circle question. Our purpose is always to get to know the students better. We want to know their likes, dislikes, what makes them happy, what inspires them, what makes them thrive, and so on. I decided it would be interesting to know what they like to do with their free time, so the question for tonight was “what does your perfect day off look like?” I was surprised to learn that most of the group thoroughly enjoys sleep and binge watching favorite TV shows, while just a few of us enjoy the early mornings paired with a nice cup of Joe and beach time.

After we all finished sharing, we transitioned into our stations. I jumped into Lisette’s station which was focused on finalizing stories and planning logistics. I joined the group with a story about a girl named Hazel and with an older sister named Star. Hazel often feels unrecognized because her sister is an overachiever and is the “star” of the family. The group made some pretty important tweaks to the story to give it better flow and for the first time, I had some suggestions that the girls actually ended up using! I have to say I was proud of myself, considering I often feel extremely uncreative surrounded by these incredibly talented people.

Once the story was concrete, we moved on to planning. Lisette explained that we needed to figure out the cast, props, location, and roles. The girls decided who would play Hazel and Star, discussed what props they needed for different scenes, and figured out what each person could bring. They decided they could shoot some of the scenes at our space and one of the girls suggested they might be able to film at her house since she lives up the street. When it came to figuring out film roles, some girls were certain of what they wanted to take on, while others were willing to give anything a fair try. They discussed and determined who was going to be the director, assistant director, who will be working behind the cameras, and who will be editing. I think it’s safe to say this group has their film ducks in a row and are ready to start shooting next week!

For the next rotation, I sat in a group led by Sam, Elliana, and Carter. These film mentors helped each group create shot lists. I learned that shot lists are very important tools to keep filmmakers organized. The list consists of a specific scene-by-scene description which is laid out on an excel spreadsheet. Each scene has different categories, which describe the scene by shot, size angle, movement, description, actors, wardrobe, props, and any other important notes. This is something they can refer back to at any point to help them stay on track with their film. For this specific story, the first scene starts with a moving shot in the main character’s room, eventually panning over to an over the shoulder shot of the main character as she does her makeup in the mirror. The group worked together to fill out the sheet as best they could in the amount of time given. This also required a brush-up on the different shot types, which Eliana explained beautifully with appropriate pictures as examples.

Last but not least, I finished with a station that was led by Serena and Noa. This station was intended to help the groups solidify their characters to make sure they were avoiding stereotypical roles or any clichés. The production group we were facilitating is working on an experimental film which has very unusual characters. Because of the intended quirkiness and originality of the film, they completely avoided any type of stereotypes or clichés. In fact, in their story, the main character’s creativity is what sets her apart from the rest of her classmates, which is unlike most things we witness in films. We used our time together to ask questions about their story and helped to clarify exactly what props they needed for their film. I am definitely looking forward to seeing how this film unfolds!

To close our Friday nights, we always like to come together to end on a good note. I thought it would be a good start to our weekend to end our night with a laugh. The question for closing circle was “who or what makes you laugh the most?” Most of the responses had to do with best friends who share inside jokes, family members, or pets, as one student stated that her “ridiculously fat cat” makes her laugh the hardest. Others find laughter in TV shows or even in themselves. One participant responded, “Probably myself. I can be dumb in my own head and then I just laugh out loud, then I seem really crazy.” The night concluded with some good laughs and was another successful night at Making Media That Matters.

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