Two years ago I was approached by a local artists group about making a documentary. The idea was to create a film using students and allowing them to control every aspect of the film. The group, The Association for Visual Arts (AVA), wanted to bring in several local filmmakers and let them work with the students to guide them through the creation process and, ultimately, to the first screening of their own movie.
Even the most well-intentioned group can’t just walk into a school and borrow some students. Since I have a series of media production classes and teach at a certain type of school, AVA called me to ask if I was interested. Of course I said, “Yes.” So we started with some meetings, had some more meetings and then, just as we were about to start, the whole thing fell apart. I can’t remember if it was funding or lack of interest from outside of the school or whatever. So a year later we started all over again. More meetings, more false starts and one more total shut-down. This time because the person at AVA who was heading up the project from their end changed jobs. I thought that would be the last I heard from AVA and, gladly, I was wrong.
The new person involved with the Education Outreach program at AVA had heard of the project and liked it. He decided to start all over again. And to shorten the story, we started pre-production with 13 students and two filmmakers. And me, the Project Coordinator. The kids worked on concept and decided to make a movie on “rap, rock, the individual and the group.” A movie about how the music we listen to impacts the way others see us and the way we see ourselves. It was called “Golden Grillz & Satan Likes Puppies.”
The movie was well received and was shown in several locations around town and a copy is on file at the Mayor’s office. Not a bad result for a group of first-timers. The results were actually far greater than we had hoped and it set the stage for what is happening today. The second documentary film is starting today. The first day is always the slowest but the AVA filmmakers know how to make it work and we have some good kids and I can’t wait to see what this year’s subject is going to be.
The best thing I see out of the students is a new sense of commitment and ownership. We are asking two days a week, two hours each time for almost four months. And the kids show up, they get excited about what they are doing and they take pride in the final project. It makes all the extra time worth it and it makes the whole thing fun.
So…nothing major here. No new educational processes, no major insights, nothing to change the world. Just ten or so kids making a movie and learning a little bit about going to work, dealing with adults and meeting deadlines. Stuff they need and stuff we neglect.
I’ll keep updating…