Seeds of Making Media That Matters
Time really flies at MMTM, in no time three hours passed by! Participants began trickling in around 3:30 and I personally love to see them arriving in our space. They make themselves comfortable, talk story with the mentors and the other participants, catch up, and also get some snacks. We had nice music playing and a video that captured the past session on loop. As we were nearing the time to start, the room felt a little bit too hot and so I decided to move everybody outside in the area outside. Maybe it was just me feeling too hot, as I was running around getting everything ready, but it seemed that everybody welcomed to sit outside, and so we circled up and started the session by sharing what we have been watching recently and what we like about it.
This type of questions is extremely important to ask to know what they are watching, what kind of media they consume and what do they find appealing. The media landscape is so fragmented and niched that we have all different media references. I generally add what they share to my own to-watch list to develop a common language. Quite a few seemed to enjoy “The Good Place,” others shared about films that they may have seen recently, such as the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Once everybody shared, I reiterated the importance of asking ourselves, as media makers, not only what we like about a particular film or sitcom and questioning how that piece of media works on us in eliciting emotions, but also engaging with the "why" we like what we do.
We then transitioned back to the room and Marie led us in examining what makes reporting good or bad and how to always question the sources of any news/reporting we read and/or listen to. She provided us with several good tips on how to find good sources and fact-check when researching. These are extremely important skills to develop as part of our program. For now, they are just introductions, but as they will research on the topics they are interested to produce a film about, we will make sure we will refer back to what we presented today.
After a short break, we resumed the session with the filmmaking part of the day, and Valerie and Marie introduced very important aspects of what it means to be a professional filmmaker. We are all about fun as well as nurturing the most professional filmmakers ever. Collaboration, respect, being always present and helpful, being aware of your surrounding are some of the professional behaviors we want to promote in our girls. There are always consequences for whatever we do, and a film set is no different. We explained that, or example, if you are not quiet or not staying quiet on set during filming you will not be called back. If the equipment is not handled with the utmost care, there are consequences such as, once again, not being called back. And, word-of-mouth will do the rest in preventing you from getting new opportunities. Valerie and Marie also touched on the importance of ethics in Documentary Filmmaking and Narrative, introduced the different filmmaking roles, and presented how to pitch a documentary and narrative film.
We took another break and then Noa and Serena reconvened all of us to delve further into how to avoid one-dimensional characters as they are about to write their own stories to pitch. Noa and Serena led this part by asking first to list cliche character archetypes, cliche lines and situations, then had the participants add their own twist to each of them. What they shared was quite impressive, and even if we did not have enough time to go deeper into the writing exercise what we hear was exemplary of brilliance, pure brilliance.
In no time, it was time to conclude our session. We did not have time to do a closing, as we spent the last few minutes we had to go over the “homework.” For the first time, we assigned homework. In fact, I cannot recall having assigned any in the past, but we are trying something different this time. We asked them to share a pitch for a story by next Wednesday integrating all the information they received during the session. Each of them will submit a story following the pitch format and also sharing with us what it is the main message and what issue(s) of social justice is/are addressed in the story. All the stories will be printed and posted on the wall and they will have time to go around and vote on the stories that will be further developed and produced during the program.
And, so MMTM week #3 came and went...in a flash.
Needless to say that I am so looking forward to reading what they are going to share: the seeds of a vision for making media that matters.