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Making Media That Matters #12

To be honest, I stumbled into Making Media That Matters this week with a chip on my shoulder. I had a hard week, I was tired, and I just wanted to crawl in bed with some chips and Netflix. I walked through the door, however, and was greeted with warm smiles and happy hellos. A student ran up to me and said, “I saw the pictures from last week – I can’t believe I had to miss it! It looked like so much fun!” I grinned. It’s heart-warming that our students hate missing sessions. I felt that stupid shoulder chip fall to the floor. Why would I ever choose Netflix over this?

I watched as the early-bird students began creating their sets for the scenes they would shoot that afternoon. It’s incredible to observe them confidently setting up the camera and securing the tripod, building their sets, and discussing lighting. Where did all of these little film professionals come from?!?! Vera called us together for our opening circle, and we sat down cross-legged on the floor to answer our question for the evening, “What motivates you?” I can’t take credit for this question, as it was Vera’s brain-child, but I loved it! I struggled with my own answer (the mark of a good question). What motivates me? Fear? Determination? Money? The drive to make a difference?

The answers ranged from hilarious: “Rice crackers motivate me!” to deeply thoughtful:

  • “Failure is a great motivator.”

  • “Consequences move be to be better.”

  • “Other creators inspire me and motivate me to be better.”

  • “Allowing myself to imagine and dream big.”

  • “Fear of missing out motivates me.

I know us mentors are supposed to be inspiring and motivating the participants, but more often than I would like to admit (especially publicly) the participants are inspiring me.

The students moved into their production teams to continue getting ready to film. I parked myself on the sidelines, excited to observe and note their progress. The first team I spent time with is creating an abstract film, with very little dialogue. They were rockin’-and-rollin’ this week! They worked together like a well-oiled machine; identifying issues, throwing out ideas and solutions, and working well within their respective roles (camera, director, assistant director, sound, etc.). I had to stifle my giggles (as to not be heard on camera) while watching them work on a scene that required some sly maneuvering with a few of the props. When the camera panned away, the director had to quietly (and quickly!) shift a piece of paper out of the way and replace it with a new sheet. When she had success, she jumped out of frame and did a little happy dance, cracking us all up. It’s the little things.

After a while, I moved into the next room to see another production team. They were filming a bedroom scene, between two sisters. This film has dialogue, but it is largely improvised. It was fun to observe the changes in each take as the actors tried out different exchanges. One of the participants has never acted before, and it was obvious that she was a little self-conscious about being in front of the camera and being the center of attention. I am a very outgoing, extroverted person, but I would be nervous with a room full of people staring at me, too! The directors very patiently tried to explain what they were looking for, and they eventually got what they wanted on film. This is a much bigger production team, so the number of opinions increases, making it important for the students to listen to one another. I was proud when I saw them making progress and wrapping their scenes. There were lots of high-fives to celebrate their progress.

The final production team will be filming during the week, at Mid-Pac school. I can’t wait to view the story development and observe the rest of their scenes in the film space this week!

A little before 7pm, the film crews wrapped for the evening and joined us in our goodbye circle. Our evening question was more simplistic, but the answers were shockingly fantastic. The question was, “What is your favorite sound in the world?” A few students mentioned that listening to the rain or the ocean was calming. Someone talked about meat sizzling over an open flame. Another person mentioned that the last clap of the pihu in hula was satisfying. Someone else talked about the crazy sound their dog makes when it yawns. I loved the answers. It’s a good reminder that joy can be found in the smallest of things…even in a dog yawn. 😊

I looked around gratefully at all of the participants in our circle. Who will I rely on to cheer me up when MMTM is over? I am gonna miss these faces, but hopefully I will remember the sound of their giggles (perhaps one of my favorite sounds) for a long time to come.

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