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Filming & Activism // MMTM #9

A new day and a new session of Making Media That Matters! It's spring break for many of the participants, so for this session, we had a smaller group, only three girls attended our session. Yet, it was a very productive session!

We open with the usual circle, and Katie had us play the game introduced during the last session with more fun-loving questions. “What advice would you give your younger self?” “If you could have any occupation what would it be (shoot for the moon)?” were some of the questions that had us thinking. The first question had many people giving answers like “be brave,” “have confidence,” “don’t worry about what others think of you,” “be bold,” “your regrets won’t be regrets forever.” I always find interesting how differently each person grows, learning through mistakes, emotional trials, and difficult circumstances to then become the unique individual they are today.

As the Marches for Our Lives was happening the day after our MMTM session, we decided to dedicate most of our time together to talk about marches, why people march, and what they mean for the people who participate in them. And, as a few of MMTM participants were going to the March, we offered them the opportunity to hone their filmmaking skills to document the event.

Dani began guiding the conversation on the historical importance of marches, and how most changes within the history of the U.S. have stemmed from people gathering together and demanding change on their feet. Then, she asked the group about marches they knew and/or attended and what that participation meant to them.

References were made to the marches associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the TMT protests (protests against the building of another telescope on Mauna Kea), and several marches that marked the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The marches were aimed at promoting an independent Hawaiʻi, the release of lands back to the Native American people and other causes. Some students said they had participated in the Women’s March and referenced family members or friends as reasons for why they marched.

Once we set the grounds on the importance of marches, we transitioned to learning how to film live events, a little bit of guerrilla filmmaking on how best document the march.

To give some ideas, Dani screened two videos that dealt with gun violence and how it can be experienced differently depending on the color of your skin. Laurie showed how to hold and assemble the cameras and microphones to best capture sound and footage as they go. She emphasized the importance of avoiding backs and butts, but also the power of angles. Laurie also made it clear what questions were not to be asked, such as age, occupation, or other personal questions. Vera explained how to properly ask questions when interviewing. How it’s important to make the people being interviewed feel comfortable when answering questions. She also made sure the girls knew how helpful it would be to get plenty of random shots of the people marching or making signs, also known as B-roll. Noa, Serena, and Dani suggested how to formulate questions to get the most information out of the subjects without being repetitive.

The participants showed nothing but dedication and concentration in learning the how. They knew there were going to be by themselves - we in a far corner to provide support if needed, but they were in charge.

Laurie then continued by giving them more information and tips on how to use their sound equipment properly, always be recording, and how to make sure to catch every variety of voice pitches.

The girls then took it into their own hands to waddle around the room and started practicing for the big day. They tested their audio equipment, setting it up, testing the sound levels, recording everyone and making sure their voices were audible. Testing white balance, capturing the right angles and getting plenty of B-roll. They also went around the room testing out their interviewing skills. They were ready!

So, whereas attendance was low, we did make the best use of our time to get them ready to document the march and make media that matters.

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