It’s amazing how quickly 8 weeks goes by when you’re immersed in work you’re passionate about. The Cabrini Connections Reel Talent Productions internship ran successfully and 3 teenage girls emerged with a renewed sense of confidence about who they are and what they can achieve. Here’s a peek at what went down.
In Summer 2011, 3 teenage interns came together to produce a short documentary about health and sports participation in their communities. With the generous help of Girls In The Game and Kartemquin Films, the result was 8 weeks of immersive, hands-on learning for the girls. Their finished film “Girls In Action” premiered on Aug 24, 2011 to over 50 people, and the screening was followed by a thoughtful Q&A session about the issues. Girls In Action will also be featured as a companion web video for In The Game, a Kartemquin Films doc-in-progress about Title IX, gender equality in sports, and how change takes place in a democracy.
In order for our interns to produce a well-informed and thoughtful documentary, they had to first learn about the issue at hand – why there is a lack of participation in sports among girls in their community. So we kicked things off by sending them to spend a week at Girls In The Game’s Summer Squad. There, our girls not only participated in daily workouts, but also learned about the media’s role in influencing perceptions of sports participation. They had to think about important questions like:
• How much coverage are women’s sports given in the media?
• How does the media portray sportswomen?
• How does that influence a teenage girl’s desire to be active?
• What can I as a filmmaker to do change perceptions and encourage more girls to be active?
Field Trip: Chicago Premiere of The Interrupters
To give our interns an understanding of how social issue documentary can inform audiences and affect change, we took them to the Gene Siskel Film Center for the Chicago premiere of The Interrupters, the newest film from Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams). It was an eye-opening experience for them to see a documentary film by the legendary Steve James, and to witness great audience discussion after with the filmmakers and subjects.
The Big Premiere
After weeks of hard work, Girls In Action was finally complete.
Our interns had the opportunity to screen their new documentary to the award-winning filmmakers at Kartemquin Films. The big day began with a special sit-down lunch with the producers and director of In The Game, where the girls got to share their experience and ask questions of Kartemquin’s Executive Director Justine Nagan, Producer Mary Morrissette, and Director Maria Finitzo herself.
That same evening, our interns planned a big screening at Cabrini Connections itself. There was an overwhelming turnout of support from the interns’ friends, family members, subjects of the film, internship mentors, representatives from Girls In The Game, and staff of Cabrini Connections. The place was bustling with excitement as the girls geared up to screen their film a second time that day.
Following the screening, the interns invited representatives from Girls In The Game up front to join in the Q&A session. Questions from audience members came fast and furious – first about issues covered in the film and what we can do about it, and later about the filmmakers’ experience. Our girls had set a goal for their film to inform, inspire and influence, and based on the questions audience members were asking, we can say they’ve achieved it. They handled the Q&A very well and we are very proud of what they’d accomplished in such a short period of time.
Our three interns had, over the course of 8 weeks, learned so much more than how to use a camera. They learned:
- how to think critically about an issue and structure their story in a manner that would convey a positive message to their audience.
- professional communication skills such as how to set up interviews, how to send a professional e-mail, and how to follow-up with a thank you note after.
- basic job responsibilities such as showing up punctually, completing tasks on time, and communicating with teammates clearly and effectively.
- to exercise their public speaking skills by standing in front of an audience, presenting their work, and taking questions after.
- how to carry on as champions of healthy living and keeping an active lifestyle.
As with all good things, the internship had to come to an end. We sent our girls off with the hope for bright futures ahead for them all. Go now, and take flight!
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the help of my two fellow instructors, Jane Wang and Jonathan Vogel. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to take this adventure on with me.