Monday, December 20, 2010

Last October, Laura Rattner (Ph.D. candidate at Penn State University
and local Seattle resident) presented doctoral work from her time spent with
ReelGrrls (2005) at the The Reimagining Girlhood: Communities, Identities, Self-Portrayals. This conference at State University of New York College atCortland, New York featured papers from over 150 interdisciplinary GirlsStudies scholars from over 14 countries. Additionally, A Participatory Media Workshop for girls was led by Mary Celeste Kearney, Associate Professor of Radio-Television-Film at University of Texas at Austin.
 Mary is a leading Girls’ Studies scholar and author of Girls Make Media (Routledge, 2006), and several other books and articles. She also is the founding director of
Cinemakids, a program for aspiring young media producers in Austin.

October 22-24, 2010; State University of New York College at Cortland

Cortland, New York USA

Monday, December 06, 2010

Media Literacy Monday: The Media Show

The Media Show is an excellent web series starring two puppet siblings. They've made an incredible 72 videos covering all manner of media literacy topics. The creators have also put together an excellent site documenting their experiences making videos for YouTube and teaching media literacy to youth. An incredible resource for anyone teaching media literacy!

Check out on of their latest episodes below, discussing how Hollister sells us an idea of California glamour that may not live up to the reality.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Youth Media Thursday

We love all kinds of youth media at Reel Grrls- not just video. We want to see youth embracing their creativity in any way that makes them happy. Check out this great piece from a young woman in Kentucky about the difficulty of finding health care as a low-income adult.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wenesday Link Round-Up

Women and Hollywood posted this terrible ad for BBC home video. Apparently men can have jobs and adventures, women just get to be... ladies. 

Woot! Reel Grrls filmmaker Naomi Nelson just won the Adoption Stories Audience Award from POV for her film Why Not. We could not be prouder.

BarnMaven writes a great story on BlogHer about why she's glad her little girl punched a boy in the privates.

You may have heard the upsetting news- Comcast is seriously challenging net neutrality. Make your voice heard by signing Media Reforms petition to the FCC.

You've probably heard of the Bechdel Test before. Our friend Anita Sarkeesian made this great video explaining exactly what it is:

Well, right now at Bitch Magazine, Alyx Vesey is doing a great series called Bechdel Test Canon, cataloging some of the best films that pass the test. Check it out next time you're trying to figure out what to rent!

Become a Reel Grrls Mentor!

It's the end of the year. And I know that has a lot of you thinking, "Yeah, 2010 was great and all, but in 2011 I am looking for a way to really make a difference." Well, look no further!

Reel Grrls is currently seeking committed mentors for our after-school and school-break programs in early 2011.

What is a Reel Grrls mentor? Reel Grrls relies on the support and commitment of phenomenal adult women volunteers who mentor, train, and learn alongside our participants. We value mentors with a variety of backgrounds and skills to share: the main requirement is a commitment to empowering young women through media production.

In exchange for their hard work and time commitment, mentors gain access to Reel Grrls video equipment and the opportunity to network with other Seattle-based filmmakers, artists, activists, and educators.

The first step to becoming a mentor is to complete an online mentor application.

We are seeking mentors for the following programs:

Lights, Camera, Reel Grrls!
Wednesdays, January 19 - April 27, 4:00 - 6:30 PM
Saturdays, Jan 22, Feb 19, Mar 19, Apr 9, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Mentor Orientation: Wed, Jan 12, 5:30 - 7:30 PM

All meetings to be held at the Reel Grrls office in the Central District
- LCRG is the signature intro video production program. Volunteer mentors work will small teams of 3-4 girls on short video pieces, usually on personal topics.
- If you are interested, contact Maile (maile at reelgrrls dot org) for the full program calendar - we do not meet on certain weeks due to school breaks.

Winter Break Animation Camp
Monday - Friday, February 21 - 25, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Mentor Orientation: Tuesday, Feb 15, 5:30 - 7:30

All meetings to be held at the Reel Grrls office in the Central District
- Reel Grrls has some positions for paid animation instructors, and some stipended positions for mentors who will guide small groups of 3-4 girls (ages 9-19) through the process of making short animated videos.

Spring Break Camp: Topic TBA
Monday - Friday, April 18 - 22, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Mentor Orientation: Monday, April 11, 5:30 - 7:30

All meetings to be held at the Reel Grrls office in the Central District
- Additional program details coming soon.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, or if you have questions, please contact Maile for details (maile at reelgrrls dot org).

Reel Grrls mentors are a vital part of our community. But don't take my word for it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Media Literacy Monday: Advice from a Cartoon Princess

Whenever I see someone taking on the challenge of teaching media literacy in a fun, new way, I can't help but sit up and clap my hands with glee. Second City's hilarious web series Advice from a Cartoon Princess does such a fine job, I didn't just cheer, I laughed like crazy, too.

In the videos comedian Danielle Uhlarik portrays a number of different cartoon princesses. So far she's been Ariel, Belle, and Snow White. Her quips are short lines, describing accurately how things take place for Disney princesses. In the Belle video she tells us "candlesticks are really good at love advice. Because they're French!" Overall, she does a great job of pointing out how ludicrous the roles for women in princess movies really are. The Belle video ends with her reminding us that "the lesson here is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder... as long as the woman is good looking."

I really love this series because it takes a complex discussion (gender roles in Disney movies), and makes them easy to understand, humorous, and enjoyable. If only all media literacy discussions could be this fun!

Look below to check out Snow White's advice for you. (Please note, some of these videos do contain a little profanity.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Youth Media Thursday

We hope you are having a wonderful thanksgiving. You know what we're thankful for around here? All the amazing work our foremothers did to ensure that women have the right to vote.

This past summer some of our advanced grrls in the apprentice program made this great video about how women won the right to vote here in Washington state. Check it out!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Media Literacy Monday: Toy Ads and Learning Gender

Our friend Anita Sarkeesian, who does the great Feminist Frequency vlog, just posted this new video about how kids learn gender through toy ads. She makes some great points, and includes a clip that some of grrls made in the video remix workshop last winter.

For information and resources on ending advertising to children, check out the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grrl Vlog #4: Celebrity Weight Loss

Check it out! Maile and I made a new video blog, all about the recent high-profile weight loss of Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Osborne, and Sara Rue. What kind of message does their weight loss send? Do we focus too much on weight as an indicator of health? What do YOU think?

Read about Health at Every Size on wikipedia. And if you'd like to read the article about body image and chronic dieters that I cited in the video, you can download the PDF here.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday: Computer Backups

Hello RG friends & followers! For today's Tech Tip Tuesday I made my first ever vlog (video blog), inspired by friend of Reel Grrls and feminist vlogger Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency! I'll let the vlog, about backing up your computer (the why & the how), starring me and Carrie Bradshaw of Sex & the City, speak for itself:

And as promised, here is a brief list of backup programs I have heard good things about. Be warned: I have not tried all of these personally, and I encourage you to do some research for yourself to decide which is the best option for you. Please also leave comments on this blog post if you have other suggestions or want to weigh in on which is the best backup program in your opinion.

PC users
• MiMedia
• SOS Online Backup
• Norton Online Backup
• Acronis True Image

Mac users
• SuperDuper
• Time Machine
• Dropbox
• ZumoDrive

That's it for today. See ya next time!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday: Autosave Vault

Well, I've gone and done it. Somehow I have managed to go several weeks without posting a Tech Tip Tuesday for you! I bet you all have been anxiously checking our blog every single Tuesday only to shed a tear when you saw that there still wasn't a tech tip for you. Well, cry no more my friends & Reel Grrls followers! 'Cause here we go...

To ease back in to the Tech Tip Tuesday world, here's a quickie for you: It's about setting your scratch disks in Final Cut Pro, specifically setting your Autosave Vault.

We all know how important it is to set Scratch Disks when editing. It allows us to keep all of the files associated with our Final Cut Pro project in one place.

If you're like me (and the Reel Grrls crew), you edit most of your projects on external hard drives, so your scratch disks aren't set to your computer's hard drive. That's why this tech tip is so important!

Here it is. Ready?
Set your Autosave Vault to a different location than your other scratch disks.

Why, you ask? Well, the Autosave Vault saves a backup copy of your project every few minutes (the length of time between saving is based on what you choose in your "user preferences"). If you've ever had a project file get lost or corrupted, you'll know why these backup copies of your project in your Autosave Vault are your best friend in the world. But what happens if your external hard drive, holding your project and all of your Scratch Disks, somehow fails??

Hey, it happens. BUT if your Autosave Vault is in a different location ... BOOM. Your life (or at least your project) is saved.

Now go forth, and set your scratch disks, with your autosave vault in a different location. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Reel Grrls in Detroit this summer!

As we say goodbye to summer, here at Reel Grrls we've been reflecting upon all the rad stuff we did last season: Like traveling to Detroit in June for the Allied Media Conference and US Social Forum!

(coincidentally, tonight the NW Media Action Grassroots Network & Reclaim the Media are holding a reportback from all the Seattle folks who made it out to Detroit, at Hidmo on 20th & Jackson at 6:30)

Reel Grrls was seriously representin' at this year's Allied Media Conference. In attendance (from left to right) were board member Adrienne Wiley-Thomas, participant Mariana Urban, staff members Nickey Robare and Lila Kitaeff, and graduates Tani Ikeda and Monica Olsson. What an awesome showing!

I had a great time at the conference, but I'll let grad Monica Olsson tell you all about it:

Hello Reel Grrls family and RG followers!

I was fortunate enough to attend the AMC from June 17th to the 21st with the fabulous RG team.  Our time together was a whirlwind of hard work, workshop-ing, hot hot sunshine, lots of laughs, art, music, and beautiful collaboration.

Some of you may be wondering what exactly is the AMC?  Well, the Allied Media Conference is a three-day event that happens each year in Detroit.  This year the AMC was followed by the U.S. Social Forum, which also took place in Detroit. The AMC is a national convergence of people from all over the United States that come together to discuss the importance and direction of media justice, democratic media, and the role of media justice in social movements, and representation. The purpose of the AMC is to network, learn new things and new skills, and leave with renewed inspiration to use media to make positive changes in the world. There is a huge youth presence at the AMC, and I was happy to note that several of the individual workshops and workshop tracks (different themes or focuses) were led by youth.

Mariana and I stayed in a dorm room together at Wayne Sate University, where the AMC events were taking place.  We had the opportunity to meet a lot of other folks also staying on campus from so many different cities across the country; I couldn’t count them now even if I tried! Our mornings began early with complimentary breakfast and coffee through the conference.  Then it was off to a full day of workshop-ing, taking notes, and sharing ideas.  I felt as though I was in a constant comforting yet challenging information bubble my entire time at the AMC.  It was so wonderful to stretch my thinking and unite with a community of like-minded people.

Reel Grrls definitely took the conference by storm (the Reel Grrls way of doing things, if we’re honest). We put on our working gloves mixed in our playtime together. Our second day there we co-led a workshop called the Next Generation of a Queer Trans Youth Narrative.

We worked with Sid Peterson from the Three Wings Organization that was created through the Queer Youth Space this past March.  Reel Grrls also worked with Kalil Cohen from Reel Boi Productions.  During this workshop we screened the 2004 RG video “Coming Out”, and a segment from the Three Wings’ documentary “Put this on the Map”, and also a piece from Kalil’s short film.  The workshop group engaged in a participatory conversation about the media presentations.  This is when smart people said smart stuff, and I loved every minute of it.  We played a game that explored the intersectionality between gender and sexuality that spurred even more wonderful conversation and debate.

Perhaps however, the most fun and inspiring thing we accomplished during this workshop were the small group PSA video clips.  The workshop participants divided up into three or four groups and brainstormed together what they wanted to see presented/represented through media as the Next Queer/Trans Narrative, beyond the linear coming out story line.  Sound bites were then chosen to be video recorded, and edited together.  For example, some people said things along the lines of, “I want to see more out public figures or Politians” or, “I want to see more representations of Queer Asian Americans”.  We pulled together a few of the strongest sound bites to show during the closing ceremony on the last day of the AMC! Here's the clip that played there to thundering applause:

The Next Generation of Queer/Trans Youth Narrative from ReelGrrls Workshops on Vimeo.

My favorite part of the AMC without question was something that happened for the first time this year in the history of the conference.  This year there was a strong disability presence in the fact that there was a Disability Social Justice track.  This means that a complete series of workshops throughout the conference centered on discussions of disability from a positive, proud, and social liberation point of view.  The Disability 101 workshop explored different ways of defining or looking at disability with a focus on the social construction of disability.  This explains that there are ongoing attitudinal and physical barriers constructed and maintain that create or manifest the experience of being a disabled person.

I felt that it was pretty darn fortuitous that I came to the AMC with RG this year because I am a disabled filmmaker and a student in the Disability Studies at UW. Reel Grrls is also becoming more comprehensively accessible and inclusive as a program. A few people from Sins Invalid were at the AMC and lead workshops.  Sins Invalid is “a performance project on disability and sexuality that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized from social discourse” (www.sinsinvalid. org). Sins Invalid is based out of the Bay Area, and I have been yearning to see a live performance of theirs for a bit now. So, being able to workshop with some of the program’s members put a smile on my face, and totally made my day!

A big thank you to Reel Grrls and MAG-Net for making this trip happen!  Next year I hope to see a larger group from Reel Grrls attend the AMC!



Thanks for the inspiring words, Monica! I wholeheartedly agree, and will add that Reel Grrls also led a second workshop called "Media Literacy Mad Libs" that was a lot of fun:

Also, staff members Nickey and Lila (that's me) stayed on for the US Social Forum, in which social justice organizers from all over the country working on many different issues took over Detroit for the week! 10s of thousands of us streamed in to the city and participated in workshops and programs, People's Movement Assemblies, and an amazing march through downtown Detroit:

As Monica mentioned, we are grateful to the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net) for funding us to go to Detroit, as well as all of the RG supporters who stepped up to make this trip possible. We had an amazing time and can't wait for next year's Allied Media Conference! Save the Date: June 23-26, 2011

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Attend the 4th Annual Reel Grrls Gala and Auction!

Reel Grrls events never fail exhilarate me! Even our board meetings have an energy that can revive any weary mood. This year’s Gala and Auction will no doubt be yet another inspiring experience as we showcase the great work of Reel Grrls PLUS an inspiring look at where women filmmakers are shaking it up in the industry!

This year’s special guest, Anne Rosselini, the writer and producer of award winning Winter’s Bone, will indeed top anything we have experienced yet at the Reel Grrls Gala and Auction, coming up on October 23rd at the Fare Start Restaurant in downtown Seattle.

If you haven’t seen the film yet, it is a must see! It is what I would call a PERFECT movie: a story driven by the tenacity of the resourceful and smart young female protagonist, Ree Dolly, as she goes looking for her meth-cooking father who has disappeared under strange circumstances. This film is a true thriller and the characters are written and acted to perfection. The pacing of this film draws you into an intensely impoverished world where we see the human spirit dominate unbearable odds. I can’t help but wonder, who wrote this? We will hear Ms. Rosselini tell her story at the Gala!

Watch the trailer:

The evening is sure to be a compelling, festive occasion where we celebrate this amazing spirit of women in film! Please join us at the Fare Start Restaurant on October 23rd and support the work of Reel Grrls. This organization makes these heights of creative expression possible for over 100 girls every year, launching reel careers and enriching our world. Hope to see you there!

- Jennifer Geist, Reel Grrls Board

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Reel Grrls Guide to Local Sightings 2010

Local Sightings 2010 is here!

For 13 years (wow!) our friends at Northwest Film Forum have been showcasing film and video produced in the Great Northwest through the awesome Local Sightings Film Festival. This year's festival takes place October 1-6, 2010, at the Film Forum’s cinemas on 12th Avenue on Capitol Hill.

This year’s festival features a handful of feature films, as well as seventy-five short films! Dang! How's a grrl to decide what to see? Well, you could start with the films that were produced by Reel Grrls mentors, staff, and friends - which are plentiful! Here's our must-see list.

1. True Enough. Saturday, October 2, 9 PM. This collection of documentary shorts features not one but two projects created by Reel Grrls mentors! You may have heard of I SAW U, which was directed, produced, written, shot, edited, and animated by Reel Grrls mentors and staff (including moi). This is one of your last chances to see it on the big screen, so don't miss it! WCF? was created by Reel Grrls mentors/friends Katie Gregg and Cassidy Dimon. It's a 10-minute "look into the underground world of guinea pig fanciers" and it looks awesome! Watch the trailer and get psyched! There are a number of other women-directed docs in this shorts program, and they all look great. Get your tickets for this screening here. They're going fast!

2. Drawn to Moving. Saturday, October 2, 7 PM. Animated Shorts! Need I say more? OK, just a few words about why I'm psyched about this screening: Nicer to Have One, the beautiful/charming/sweet/wonderful creation of Reel Grrls mentor Celena Adler is part of it! It's about the experience of being a twin, and it's a must-see. We also really want to see Gentle Giants, created by Clyde Peterson. Clyde is working on a really exciting giant animation outdoors at Cal Anderson Park which we have been following. You can too. Clyde has also made a bunch of cool music videos locally and we're hoping he might make a cameo as a guest speaker at our upcoming Music Video Production Program. But anyway, we think he's cool and want to see his movie. Plus, Animated Shorts!!! Get your tickets for this screening here.

3. With or Without You. Sunday, October 3, 9 PM. This lineup looks great, and we're especially excited about the chance to see Orpheus & Eurydice on the big screen. It was shot by Reel Grrls mentor Katie Gregg, and produced by a team of Reel Grrls friends from The Last Quest. It's a really beautiful example of pixelation animation, a technique Katie has taught at past Reel Grrls Animation Camps! Get your tickets for this screening here.

4. Objects in the Mirror. Monday, October 4, 9 PM. This shorts lineup features Betty. Not only was this film directed by Seattlite Heather Ayres, it also features a gripping performance by Reel Grrl big sister Davie-Blue! Seriously, the lead actress is the older sister of Reel Grrl extraordianaire, Summer! It was also shot on 35mm and has an amazing look. This is probably one of your last chances to catch it on the big screen so don't delay - get your tickets now!

5. Two Indians Talking. Saturday, October 2, 5 PM. This feature film explores the question, “When you do something for the right reasons, does that make it the right thing to do?” It's preceded by Unreserved: The Work of Louie Gong, directed by Reel Grrls friend and fellow youth mediaster Tracy Rector (she founded Native Lens). It's about a Pacific Northwest artist and activist who merges Native Coast Salish art with pop culture in the custom skate shoes he creates for Vans. Get your tickets now!

SPECIAL NOTE: Everyone knows that the Northwest Film Forum throws awesome parties. Local Sightings kicks off with a Big Opening Night Party on October 1 beginning at 9pm. It has a 90s theme, which is the decade when some of us (cough, cough) went to high school so that will be a lovely/terrible trip down the fashion memory lane. More importantly, there will be sumo wrestling! We wouldn't dream of missing this, and neither should you. See you there!

Time to Sign up for the Reel Grrls Music Video Production Program!

The Reel Grrls Music Video Production Program kicks off in just one week! We launched this program as a five-day camp over spring break, and it was such a huge success that we have decided to expand it into a 10-week program. It's a great opportunity to discuss the music video genre, what we like and what we don't like about it, and the cliches and tropes we want to avoid as music-video-makers.

This time around we'll be working with Shenandoah Davis! We're still confirming the other artists we'll be working with, but we know they'll all be awesome!

This rad stop-motion animated video is an example of what you might create in this program!

The Next Door Neighbors: Liars from ReelGrrls Workshops on Vimeo.

See more grrl-created music videos in this Vimeo album.

If you want to get a feel for what this program will be like, check out this blog post about the Music Video Camp we offered earlier this year.

You can learn more about this program on our program page, and you can also apply online!

All Reel Grrls programs are fun, but the Music Video Production Program is SUPER fun. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday: Mic Att!

Hey peoples, time again for another Tech Tip Tuesday!

Last week we talked about what to do if your external microphone is picking up unwanted radio signals (if you didn't catch the post yet, check it out here). After posting the tip, I chatted online with friend of Reel Grrls and awesome video blogger Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency. Here's an excerpt from our conversation:

ANITA: love your short little post about the mic audio problem!
me: Thanks!
ANITA: now if only you'll make one about why my audio is always so low no matter what mic I use
me: Hmm... low audio, I'll have to think on that one...
ANITA: I got it to work with a shotgun put right underneath the person speaking, but any further away is inaudibly low, even with a lavalier.
me: does your camera have auto & manual audio levels? have you tried it on both?
ANITA: no it doesn't have that unfortunately.
It has "turn mic attachment on" and then you can adjust the audio, so I guess it does, but even when it's all the way up it's still low
me: Wait, is the "attachment" setting just called att?
ANITA: ya it says MIC ATT
me: Actually, "att" stands for "attenuate" and it is used to cut off high levels on your mic. So when it's on it just brings your audio levels way down.
all this time!
I thought it was mic attachment so it would pull from the mic and not the built in
me: It's a common misconception, no worries.
Try turning it off and see if it helps. Let me know!

So, the big message is: MIC ATT does NOT stand for "mic attachment," but "mic attenuate"! And what does mic attenuate do? It makes your incoming audio LOWER. What exactly is attenuation? Check the definition from this great audio glossary Anita sent over:

Attenuation: The process of decreasing the amplitude of a signal as it passes from one point to another. Analog attenuation circuits typically use resistors to reduce the voltage of a signal.

So, as Anita next asked, why on earth would anyone want to turn mic att on? Great question! Truthfully, I have never had to turn this setting on, but if you were in a situation where the audio was so loud it sounded distorted or blown out (like yelling & clapping at a game or event), or if you had a mixer or similar line-out attached to your mic input (mics have a much quieter signal than lines), you might want to try turning on your mic att.

To sum all this up and illustrate the point for you, Anita made this fabulous little video about our friend (or enemy, as the case may be) Mic ATT. Enjoy, and thanks Anita!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Save the Date: the Reel Grrls Gala is October 23rd!

We are thrilled to announce this year's special guest: Anne Rossellini, director of 2010 Sundance Jury Prize winner Winter's Bone, and to welcome Boeing, our lead event sponsor for the 4th Annual Reel Grrls Fall Gala and Auction.

Tickets will go on sale soon - for now, save the date and get in touch if you are interested in volunteering or donating to the auction.

We can't wait to see you there!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday: Radio in your Audio?

Today I'm excited to share a Tech Tip with you that I learned from one of our mentors, Claire Beach, last week during a Reel Grrls shoot.

Our summer Apprenticeship Program for advanced students pays Reel Grrls participants a stipend to create promotional videos for local non-profits (who do not have to pay for the video they receive–pretty awesome right?!). This year, one of the videos we are creating is about women's suffrage, and will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in Washington State. 

Last week the Suffrage Team was setting up for an important shoot with author Patsy Clark. They had two lavalier microphones hooked up to their main camera and the audio levels looked like they were coming in fine, but when the camerawoman put on her headphones she noticed a low level of audio coming through that sounded like a BBC radio report. Huh?? That's right. Our mics were picking up a radio station!

Believe it or not, this happens all the time. Why you ask? Well, according to the internet, it can happen for lots of reasons, but this is probably the one we were dealing with: "Sound systems are made up of several pieces of electronic equipment as well as a lot of wiring. Each run of wire is potentially an antenna."

So the wires of our microphones were acting as antennas, picking up a radio station and broadcasting it through our video camera. Yikes! So, how do we get rid of it? Well, Claire had a neat trick to "shield" the connectors on the mic cables:

That's right, regular old aluminum foil! In fact, this particular foil Claire kindly rescued from her lunch. We wrapped the foil around each area where the metal shields surrounded our XLR plugs. Then the camerawoman, RG participant Julia Levy, listened for the radio station again:

It worked! With the mic cables shielded, our valiant RG team went ahead and filmed an excellent interview with Patsy Clark. Foil saved the day!

Don't forget, there are lots of different reasons why your mic might pick up a radio station, so use the bounty of the internet to explore further if this tech tip doesn't solve the problem for you the next time you come across it. Still, it might be a good idea to add a little piece of foil to your filmmaker's emergency kit (I know you have one!) just in case.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Summer Video Camp is Coming!

Take a video production crash course with Reel Grrls! Learn to write, shoot, and edit a short video in only three days. Work in an all-girl, noncompetitive environment, and receive instruction from adult women media professionals. Register online today!

Mon, Wed, Fri, Aug 23, 25, 27
10:00 AM - 4:00pm
Location: Reel Grrls New Media Lab in Seattle's Central District, 1409 21st Ave, Seattle WA 98122
Ages: Open to young women ages 13 - 19. Beginning and advanced media-makers welcome!
Cost: $175, or pay what you can. No participants turned away due to lack of funds.

Register online:

Contact: Program Manager Maile Martinez at (206) 393-2085 or with any questions.

And be sure to check out the Flickr stream from last year's Video Camp:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Programming Update: KUOW Weekday High Skill Swap!

PROGRAMMING UPDATE: Our Summer Apprenticeship Program is well underway, with advanced Reel Grrls working in teams to produce outreach videos for the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, the Alliance for Education, as well as a short documentary about the 100-year anniversary of women's suffrage in Washington State!

With all this production, things have been really busy in the office lately - in the best sense! Last week, we had two youth groups join us for a skill share extravaganza.

First, we had arranged a skill swap with the youth from KUOW's Weekday High Program. These are young women (coincidentally - it's a coed program but it happens to be all girls this year) who are learning radio production skills at our local NPR affiliate, KUOW. They are starting to incorporate video into some of their reporting, and they came to us to learn some basic video skills.

So the Reel Grrls apprentices put together some activities covering camera work, lighting, shot composition, and b-roll.

It was really amazing to hand over the reigns to our youth and let them take complete control of the instruction. They were great teachers!

Then we switched, and let the KUOW interns take the lead on an interviewing skills workshop:

They put on skits in which they enacted BAD interviews, and they were hilarious! We loved it!

Then everyone ran out into the neighborhood and practiced their interview skills on our neighbors at 20/20 Cycle, Alleycat Acres, and Katy's Corner Cafe (we have the best and nicest neighbors!).

But that's not all! At the same time, we worked with the World Affairs Council to bring a group of Iraqi youth in on the same day. The Iraqi youth were participating in a cultural exchange program, and they, along with some local teens, came to Reel Grrls to learn animation skills and produce short animated films.

All three groups - the WAC group, the Weekday High interns, and the Reel Grrls apprentices - got to know each other through some warm-up games, and shared our work at the end of the day. We are so happy and proud that Reel Grrls could be a hub for so many dynamic, creative youth. Big thanks to Jenny and Nathan at KUOW for helping to organize the skill share between their interns and our apprentices, and to our former Americorps VISTA Nickey for pulling off a fantastic animation workshop for the WAC group! Whew!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Video Blog: The Gaga-fication of Pop Music

In our third installment of the Reel Grrls Vlog, Social Networking and Outreach Manager Nickey Robare and Program Manager Maile Martinez discuss the recent "Gaga-fication" of pop music, particularly among female pop stars:

So what do you think - is Lady Gaga a true original? Do you know of other contemporary female media-makers who are producing creative, weird, utterly original work? (They don't have to be pop-stars - how about filmmakers, photographers, graphic artists or performers? Who inspires you?)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Youth Media Showcase: Press Freedom

Check out this great video from students at Theodore Roosevelt's Arts Media and Communications Academy in Washington, DC.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hello from Sami!

Reel Grrls graduate Samantha Muilenburg and director of Generation of Consolidation recently wrote us this blog post to tell us what she's been up to out East.

Hi! Samantha here. During my Freshman year of high school, I became a participant at Reel Grrls, a Seattle non-profit that teaches film production and media literacy to young women. I fell in love with the program, so much so that I spent the next four years making media with them.

My Senior year at high school came and left, so now I’m old and graduated, living my post Reel Grrls life. I imagined that life after Reel Grrls would feel sad and empty, but thanks to all my Reel Grrls media skills, I was able to land a spot at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where I’m studying Film & TV Production.

Now a rising Sophomore at Tisch, I can happily report that I absolutely love it. My Freshman year was fulfilling and fun. I’ve taken classes on photography, digital editing, audio production, screenwriting, and directing actors.

As a filmmaker, I am concentrating in media for social change and youth media education. The professors and faculty and Tisch are wonderful, and support the wide variety of careers that filmmaking has to offer - even my not-so-Hollywood career goals. Next year I am looking forward to taking specialized production classes, such as documentary filmmaking.

Life after Reel Grrls is far more than my classes though. Living in New York City has opened a wide variety of opportunities for me, such as finding $1 pizza at 2am and feeling local enough to make fun of tourists. But those are just minor benefits compared to the opportunities I’ve had to learn about the many wonderful non-profits working here.

This summer I’ve been interning for People’s Production House, a non-profit that, among many things, teaches youth about media policy and how to create radio productions. I worked in their introductory schools program, helping 7th and 9th grade class in Brooklyn create radio pieces about issues important to the students. Now I’m excited to be starting their Digital Expansion Fellowship, a program that teaches advanced level media policy and journalism.

I miss Reel Grrls a lot, but I’m so thankful for the many doors it has opened for me. New York is a great city, and I can’t wait to see what will happen with my next three years at NYU.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Programming Update: Animation Camp!

A couple of weeks ago we completed another successful week-long Animation Camp here at Reel Grrls. Open to young women ages 9-19, registration was so high that this ended up being our BIGGEST camp ever, with over 20 new and returning participants!

We had an incredible group of mentors for the camp, including animators Tess Martin, Celena Adler, Nickey Robare, Katie Gregg and Suzanne Twining (who worked on the Academy-award nominated feature "Coraline"!), as well as RG alumnae Sarah (who graduated way back in 2002!) and Kinsey.

Participants tried out a few different kinds of animation: paper cut-outs on lightboxes, claymation, stop-motion with toys and objects, pixellation using SLR cameras and computer animation using After Effects. We also learned about the history of animation and discussed media literacy with regards to our favorite animated media (have YOU ever stopped to think about the female characters in popular animated film & TV shows?).

By day 2 we were ready to think about creating our final pieces. Everybody had a chance to pitch a story that they thought would be pretty cool to animate, and we voted on our favorites. After choosing 6 amazing stories, participants broke up into groups and started pre-production.

After that it was animate, Animate, ANIMATE!! It was so much fun around here, with animation stations set up in every corner of every room and all around our neighborhood. Everywhere you looked there was clay, glitter, paint, paper of all shapes and colors, wigs, ketchup & mustard bottles with faces, and just a general amazingness of chaotic creativity. Not to mention tripods, camera, lights and computers. Awesome!!

Participants also learned about soundtrack creation and how adding music and sound effects to animations really make them come to life. In the eleventh hour, yours truly even helped out with foley sound effect creation in one of the films, by tapping into my secret talent: burping on cue!

The friends and family screening for our Animation Camp was completely packed, and everyone was so impressed with the completed films. Below is a small sample of the awesomeness. You can watch all the films on our Vimeo workshop page, and check out all the photos at our flickr site. See you next time!

Mamma Knows Best from ReelGrrls Workshops on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Wednesday links round up

Women Without Men is a beautiful looking new feature from visual artist Shirin Nishat that will be showing at the Northwest Film Forum next week. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it!

Our friend and fabulous mentor Wynne Greenwood (the mastermind behind post-Riot Grrl electroclash sensation Tracy and the Plastics) is teaching a workshop on performance with video here in Seattle. More info on her website.

A Reel Grrls alum just started the blog Queer Tibet. There's not a lot on the internet about queer in Tibet, so you should definitely go check it out!

There's been a bit of hub-bub around the internet in response to this article on Jezebel about sexism behind the scenes at the Daily Show. In fact, a huge group of female staffers from the show just responded with their own letter, saying that it not a sexist environment. And Amanda Hess at The Sexist blog responded to that. It's an interesting chain of events, for sure. But I'm curious as to why the Daily Show in particular is being singled out as sexist. The unfortunate fact is that the entire television industry, and all of comedy, is systemically sexist. So what do you think? Does it seem like sexism at the Daily Show is worse than other workplaces, or do we just expect more from them because it has a liberal bent?
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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tech Tip Tuesday: YouTube Settings

YouTube is a great way for you as a filmmaker to share your work AND for you as a film-watcher to find and watch others' work, but sometimes it can be difficult to figure out the best way to use the site to your advantage.

Recently someone sent me this Frogloop article for filmmakers and non-profits entitled "9 YouTube Features You May Not Know About." A couple of my favorite tips are:
• How to send someone to an exact time in any video with a specific link
• Adding subtitles and captions

For the expert watcher of videos on YouTube try Cnet's article with more great tips, including:
• Alternate sites for specialized searching and sharing of YT videos
• How to customize resolution and size for watching

That's all for today, Tech Tippers. Until next time, happy YouTube-ing!

Monday, June 21, 2010

We won!! Mayor's Arts Award 2010

Reel Grrls is thrilled to announce that we have received a 2010 Mayor’s Arts Award! Out of 459 public nominations, we were one of three Seattle arts organizations honored (along with three individuals who were also recipients). Mayor Mike McGinn will honor all recipients during a public ceremony at Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival at noon on Friday, Sept. 3. This is the eighth year of the awards. Check out the list of other 2010 recipients:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Video Blog: Sex and The City 2!

In our second installment of the Reel Grrls Vlog, Social Networking and Outreach Manager Nickey Robare and Program Manager Maile Martinez discuss watching (or not watching) the newly released sequel to Sex and the City:

Did you see the movie? Why or why not and what'd you think about it?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Film Festival Update!

You may not realize it, but the end of a Reel Grrls program is just the beginning of the life of a Reel Grrls film.

Here at RG, we work diligently year-round to champion our students' work. We submit dozens of films to tons of festivals each year. In 2009 alone our films played at over 30 festivals all over the world, including screenings in San Francisco, New York, Athens, Seoul and Kenya!

Lately the good news about our festival screenings and wins have been coming in non-stop! Here's some of the exciting news that's been happening in the Reel Grrls film fest world lately:

Celina's Story (not available online: to see a copy, buy the "Grrl Director" DVD here) screened in the Seattle International Film Festival's FutureWave Program, and was awarded a Special Jury Award! We were honored to hear the Jury's statement:
"For an honest and convincing account of one girl's life experience, we are awarding a new documentary filmmaker with a distinctive voice who we believe has a strong future."

• Two RG films, Betsy Learns About Judgments and Why Not (not available online: to see a copy, buy the "Reel Grrls TV" DVD here) played locally at the recent National Film Festival for Talented Youth.

Why Not also played at the Chicago International Film Festival's CineYouth Program! Director Naomi Nelson flew down to attend the screening and participate in a Q&A.

Betsy Learns About Judgments was nominated by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a **STUDENT EMMY AWARD** in the Drama category. Woohoo!! Filmmaker Caitlin Gaylord attended with her dad. We can't wait to see the photos!

• Finally, word just came in that Why Not will also screen at the Seoul International Youth Film Festival in (you guessed it) Seoul, South Korea! If only we could go to all of the cool places where our films get seen.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Reel Grrls Summer Clothing Swap!

Help Reel Grrls youth get to the Allied Media Conference! Reel Grrls empowers young women from diverse communities to realize their power, talent and influence through media production. The Allied Media Conference cultivates strategies for a more just and creative world. Help us bring our awesome youth from Reel Grrls to this awesome conference in Detroit this June!

• Swap your unwanted clothes in good condition
• Enjoy music spun by DJ B-Girl
• Delicious pizza from Piecora’s Pizzeria
• Yummy donuts from Mighty-O Donuts
• All funds raised help Reel Grrls youth attend the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI

When: Tuesday, June 8th 6-8pm
Where: Reel Grrls HQ
1409 21st Ave (next to the Central Cinema)
Cost: $5 donation if you bring clothes to swap, $10 if you don't
Questions? email or call 206-323-0693

RSVP to our Facebook event here!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Awesome Example of Multimedia Storytelling

Today I got to take a day away from the Reel Grrls office to talk about visual storytelling at a two day Bootcamp put on by the folks at Fusionspark Media up on lovely Whidbey Island.

While the world of journalism is turning on its head, and many of us are scrambling to figure out how to get paid while doing the work that we love, there are incredible new (and old) voices out there producing amazing work. So today I'd like to share a story produced by Mediastorm - check them out if you've never visited the site before - they don't throw new stuff up there every day, but they have been an inspiration to me for many years.

This story, which they did in collaboration with National Geographic, looks at elephant migration patterns and poaching in the Zakouma National Park in Chad. Check it out:

Ivory Wars by J. Michael Fay and Michael Nichols

Zakouma is one of the last places on earth where thousands of elephants roam together. But as perennial rains arrive to replenish the desert landscape, some 3,500 elephants seek better forage outside the park perimeter, where poachers await them. See the project at

YA Books to Movies: A Lifetime of Disappointment

Originally posted by Mary on the fantastic Rip It To Shreds!

Seeing the glossy promotional posters for the new Ramona and Beezus movie starring Selena Gomez as Beezus has renewed the anger I felt as a tween when my beloved young adult books were turned into shiny, boppy movies that totally ruined everything about the books themselves.

Now when I re-read YA books, particularly those from the 70's and early 80's, I'm truly surprised at how spare and realistic they often are. The endings are often abrupt and unresolved, and instead of a lot of cheesy poetic editorializing, we often get the straightforward narration of a young person. Read Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, and be struck by the dark undercurrents of her post WW2 life coupled with her naivete and adolescent awkwardness, all told through her eyes. And what about Harriet the Spy? I knew that book was totally weird even when reading it as a kid- her relationship with Ole Golly and the line drawings of Ole Golly's mother terrified me. Roald Dahl is another one whose work clearly has a sinister, if kooky, edge (which was actually pulled off in the first Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory! And maybe The Witches? I can't remember.)

Even as a kid (though I was a little too old for the movies when the rash of 90's era ones came out) I was disappointed in these movies, which, distinctly, lacked any of the bite of the originals. I knew that Harriet was supposed to take place in the 1960's, that Matilda and her story were intensely and irrevocably British. I was aghast to see the girl cast as Sarah Crewe in The Little Princess; this was a character who was repeatedly described as odd, weird-looking, and a little off-putting. Sure, she had a kindly heart, but she wasn't supposed to be a child model.

And when I think about Ramona, I think about her overworked parents who struggled with money, her house in Klikitat street in the rainy Pacific Northwest, her so familiar hatred of staying with the babysitter or at another kid's house because of aforesaid working parents, and Beezus feeling horribly awkward and embarrassed about everything. This shiny, allergy-fighting pharmaceutical commercial-esque sunniness and Gomez' airbrushed face seem to have no relation to the original characters.

Taking the protagonist and giving her shiny hair and these ease of a one-dimensional popular girl is a common theme in movie-making, and somehow I can't imagine film executives pouring over Barthe DeClements oeuvre and saying, "Do you think we made this twelve-year-old girl character realistic? Do you think we picked up on the dryness if the original text?" Instead we get the Hannah Montana phenomenon, where everything for kids is glossed up and filled with ridiculous distractions, all made with the assumption that children cannot pay attention to anything for more than 20 seconds. They are probably thinking, "Little girls like glitter, hair extensions, pink, and commercial tie-ins!' We can take men and sometimes women seriously, but the media is clearly uninterested in how children might really think, act, and feel, even though we were all children once and of course can trace the route of our grown-up insanity from childhood.

Of course, this movie also comes after the recent trend of making movies ostensibly about little girls, but are really about the director's "vision," including The Fall, Tideland (do NOT see that one) and even the slightly better but still under the same category Pan's Labyrinth. These films featured young female protagonists only as innocent foils to the fucked-up goings on around them.

I love good YA because, at its best, it is simple, painfully realistic storytelling, as opposed to the meaningless jerking-off that makes up the work of so many "real" authors, who mostly seem interested in little girls sexually, or, again, merely as innocent foils. Is there a coincidence that the most famous "real" novel featuring a little girl is probably Lolita? I love good YA because it says, "These stories are not trivial." Believe it or not, realistic honesty in art if often more meaningful than obtuse truths and hidden themes. And because they are about kids, particularly little girls, the genre will probably never get its due.

PS: Ohmygod.
PPS: For more on this subject, read my The Golden Compass review!