Here’s an example of taking a personal story, scripting it to a produce a short film & using it for marketing/advocacy purposes…

Anybody need a lawyer in Savannah?
During the first local commercial break of last night’s Super Bowl broadcast, residents of Savannah, Ga., were treated to something truly incredible. Personal injury lawyer Jamie Casino bought the entire two-minute block of local advertising and aired the masterpiece you see above.


2nd video screened 1/16:

TRUST Colorado: 11 year-old Xiuhtezcatl Shows Us the Effects of Climate Change to His Community | Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is an 11 year-old boy from Boulder, Colorado. In this video, Xiuhtezcatl shares his story about why he joined youth from across the country to ask the courts to hear their lawsuit, Alec L., et al., v. Lisa P. Jackson, et al., which is based on one of the most fundamental principles of civilized society: TRUST.

Xiuhtezcatl is asking that our atmosphere be protected, because he loves playing in Colorado’s mountains, forests, lakes and streams and fears that the resources he most enjoys will not be there for his generation if we continue emitting carbon at current rates. Xiuhtezcatl shares, “The proof of climate change is everywhere I look. In my lifetime, the amount of forest killed by pine beetles has expanded. The number of acres burned has intensified. My generation is losing our forests. We are losing our homes. It’s not too late to ensure my generation has a livable future. But we need to listen to the science and act now.”

Over a century ago, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that our federal government has an absolute legal duty to protect our essential common natural resources — such as our air and our water - for present and future generations of Americans. Our youth are simply asking our third branch of government to compel our legislative and executive branches to do their jobs.

Learn more:

1st video screened 1/16:

Amazwi Wethu [Our Voices] ‘12 Behind the Scenes - Working

This piece documents the process of our pilot workshop from June-August, 2012, starting with learning how to use the cameras and culminating with excerpts from two short documentaries co-produced and -edited by the Equalisers: “Matatiele” and “EE’s First National Congress”.

Live Blog Event with the Filmmakers of the Oscar Nominated film THE SQUARE


Today, on the Eve of the 3rd Anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution [‪#‎Jan25‬], for an exclusive live blog event with the filmmakers of the Oscar Nominated Feature Documentary, THE SQUARE. Details below:

Friday 2pm Los Angeles, California
5pm New York, New York
12am Cairo, Egypt

[link will be live at time of event]

Hosted by: HuffPost, BoomGen Studios,WITNESS, and GOOD partner with Netflix.

Participants: Jehane Noujaim (Director), Karim Amer (Producer), Khalid Abdalla (documentary cast), Ahmed Hassan (documentary cast), Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani (Host).  Some of the other cast members of the documentary are joining the LiveBlog from Egypt and will be answering questions directly.

No news outlet has been able to capture the raw emotion and visceral urgency of Egypt’s ongoing struggle as intimately as the Oscar-nominated documentary The Square.  Born in Tahrir Square and produced through a collaboration of activists and artists on the front lines, The Square is a thrilling character-driven journey of one of the most significant events in recent history. Critics praise the film for its “heartbreaking clarity,” which “thrusts you right into the heart of the daily struggle of a revolution” and challenges you to experience the spark that shook the world three years ago. On the eve of the revolution’s third anniversary, HuffPost Live, TakePart, BoomGen Studios, WITNESS, and GOOD are partnering with Netflix to host an exclusive live blog event with the filmmakers of The Square.

Day 3 - Week 3

Students shared assignments: loglines and target list of people to interview for their documentary.

What is a logline? A log line or logline is a brief summary of a television program, film, or motion picture often providing both a synopsis of the program’s plot, and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest.

Then we used photos cameras to practice capturing a production shot list which consisted of:

Each of the following shots had to be taken, one of a person and one of an object:

  • Establishing shot or wide shot
  • Midshot
  • Close up
  • Extreme close up or macro shot
  • high angle or bird’s eye shot
  • low angle shot

Then we took a class photo:


Day 2 - Week 3

In class we began with the National Geographic activity. Where the students broke into pairs and created their own story from photos from Nat Geo articles. We then put them into the original order and saw how the stories changed. The keys to this activity for storyboarding, story development and arch. Also perspective was key, they had to understand who is telling a story and how that voice can change a story.
We then read through Log Lines from famous movies, to see if the students could guess the movie. They then had to create 3-5 log lines for their stories and begin making a target list for interviews.
HW for sat:
Come in with 3-5 log lines and a comprehensive list of possible interviews.

Day 3 - Week 2

Saturday class meet at AUL.

We started with a discussion of what had been covered during the week. We reviewed the interviewing process. Discussed the key questions interviews should cover:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why
  • How

We then covered themes. Discussed themes for the Hunger Games and then found relationships between those themes and creating a Sandy documentary.

After listing a few themes, we moved to building a story. We did an exercise to create a story with a beginning, middle, end.  Everyone wrote a superpower on the pad. Then we each randomly choose a superpower. Then drew panels of what we were doing before we knew we had a superpower, the moment we discovered the superpower, and what was the next thing we did with the superpower. [will post drawings]

Then we used the same exercise and applied it to the Sandy documentary. Brainstorming a beginning, middle and end as well as who we could interview for each section.

  • Before: Preparedness, history, expectation, government, 
  • During: Safety, readiness, security, police, fire, hospitals
  • After: effects, rebuilding, preparedness for next time, government

(See pad with notes)

Assignment for the week, Due Saturday:

Part 1
Interview 2 people. A family member and someone they don’t know. Determine their objective (could be around Sandy or something else) and make sure to cover 5 W’s & H.

Part 2
Watch a documentary online. Answer the following:

  • Why did you choose the documentary?
  • What did you like about the documentary?
  • What didn’t you like about the documentary?
  • Are there techniques, styles, shots, etc. that can be used for Sandy documentary?

Day 2 Week 2

Today in class we focused on finalizing our Photo Essays and continuing our work on interviewing. We began by going over 10 tips to a good interview and each student gave a short synopsis of their photo essays. We then broke into pairs and interviewed one another about our photo essays. Taking time to prepare questions and follow up questions, we then conducted our interviews.

For the interviewers it was a test of combing the 10 tips to their interviewing process and perfect their craft. For the interviewee it was a chance for them to really think about their project and see a first reaction to it and have a chance to reshape their idea after that interaction.

We spent the end of class talking about preparation, and what reactions we had to the activity. What we would change in our interviewing process and what questions it raised about our photo essays. We had a quick introduction to the point and shoot cameras and each student present took a camera with them for their photo essays.

Homework for Saturday:

Finish photo essay, put your 5-7 photos in order and either email them to by Friday at 8pm. Or bring in your camera to class and before class upload them to the computer. Prepare your presentation of your photo essay.

Day 1- Week 2

Today in class we began by reviewing what happened on Saturday. The students recapped their walk through Perth Amboy and highlighted the beginnings of their Photo Essays.

We continued developing our Photo Essays. Some students had a good start with some photos selected and others were beginning from scratch. By the end of the class each student had an idea of their for their story and a few places to take photos. For Thursday they are going to come with a detailed idea of their story, possible locations and spend Thursday to Saturday taking photos with the cameras provided.

Photo Essay ideas:

-Combining how songs can remind you of places and things you like to do.

-The struggles of a high school students, how to overcome those struggles, and what does the future hold.

-The growth of a photographer: examining the first 7 photos of their career and visiting those places again and exploring what has changed through new photos.

-The development of a filmmaker: from inspiration to dissemination

-Exploring personal growth through moving to different states

-Defining yourself through your friends and activities: the world through your lens.

-Family, Video Games and Sports: How to make a lot out of a little.

-Parental guidance and a youth’s big decision: How an individual makes their own decisions.

We then began talking about interviewing. Looking at the basics steps of an interview:

Researching your topic, researching the individual you are interviewing, how to make them comfortable before and during the interview, how to listen and take notes, ordering your questions by priority, and getting the subject to repeat the question before their answer.

The class ended by interviewing the facilitator as a group. Seeing if they could work as a group to find a deeper theme to the interview and to apply some of the tactics discussed previously.

For Thursday: Students will finalize their personal Photo Essays and present their ideas to the class. Each student will interview another about their photo essays and report back to the group on what they found or learned from their interview.

Day 3 - Week 1

We took a mini walking tour around AULCHS in Perth Amboy. The tour stared at the middle school and moved on to pass the following: one of three cemeteries in the town, the main local football field, old Jeffries stone street sign, residential area, and local shops.

We discussed more of the history of the town and the seashore which has been rebuilt. The shore is seasonal like the ice cream shop, a student hang out, is now closed for the winter. Perth Amboy has a ghost story about a building named, “The Proprietary House”. The legend is that a descendent of Benjamin Franklin ashamed of supporting the British during the American Revolution committed suicide by jumping out of a 3rd floor window from the house. The sports teams of Perth Amboy have a rivalry with Woodbridge.

For the second hour of the class we returned to AULCHS. We covered the following topics:

What is video? Define it. [will insert picture]

The very basic root of a video is an image / frame. Basic information that builds a video is: 1 sec of film/video can equal 30 frames, 24/25 frames, 60 frames, etc. This is called frame rate or frames per second.

Keyframes. Video/film has key frames that need to be included to be able to see movement in video/film. Keyframes can also be the key moments of a story in the video/film.

Basic shot list for video/film: establishing shots or wide shots, medium shots, close ups, macros, transitions, and cutaways (b-roll).

The process of video/film production has four stages: pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution.

Following this discussion, we moved on to reviewing photos the students brought in for review. Notes from the review: Observation. Images and sequence. Natural, instinctual, we try to find relationships between images, no matter how random or different. [ metaphor ]

Assignment for Tuesday:

5-7 Photo Essay based on identity charts. Like an English assignment, the photo essay must have a beginning, middle, and end. Include a macro shot and establishing shot.

For those in class, they were able to choose a chart to use, either their own chart or classmate’s chart.

For those not in class Saturday, choose two or three words you’d use as your personal identity or classmate’s or family member’s identity as the subject for the photo essay.

We didn’t review some of the topics from the Tuesday’s class:

  • camera angles: eye level, high angle, low angle, bird’s eye
  • camera movement: tilting, panning, tracking

Day 2 - Week 1

I went through the commitment contracts with them and told them they would be prepared for Tuesday. Part of that conversation was dangling the carrot of the opportunities this class would offer, but they needed to commit.

The Saturday hours are presenting a challenge for some students, but I think it’s vital to make sure they have that weekend time blocked out when we hit production later in the process.

I went over the role of producer, and what it means to have a budget. I also did a metaphor building exercise that I think if like to do again on Saturday.

No one really brought in any photos so I had them google a few and guided them with my own. We continued the conversation on composition and looked particularly at images without discernible complete stories, specifically the Falling Man from 9/11 (did he jump, fall, or was he pushed?).

We discussed the photo essays, and went over what is an essay. Will send out an email to them going over the frequency and class schedule, as well as photo essay assignment for Saturday.