Busy Little Bee.

I realize it’s been almost a month since my last update! Been taking on lots of exciting projects lately! Apart from the managing-my-life aspect (work visa to stay in the US longer, mourning Germany’s loss at the World Cup), here’re some updates on what’s been keeping me busy.

Kartemquin Films

Been pretty involved in the production of Maria Finitzo’s Invisible Seasons, a documentary that explores how change takes place in a democracy and the effects of Title IX on women’s athletics. Absolutely love going on shoots with the team doing 2nd camera, still photography, and filming behind-the-scenes footage. It’s always a blast when you put Maria, DP Peter Gilbert and Sound Recordist John Mathie together in one car. :) We’ve had opportunities to be a part of events like the Chicago Sky Opening Night at the Allstate Arena, the farewell banquet for the Kelly High School Women’s Soccer Team, and just learn so much through interviews with some really amazing people! Look out for the new demo that Editor Leslie Simmer’s been hard at work on, coming out mid August!

I’ve also had the pleasure of working the talented folks at Modea on the Invisible Seasons website. The initial draft concept they’ve sent me looks beautiful! It’s going to be such a fun and interactive website, I cannot wait for its official launch. :D

Innovations For Learning

I’m deep in post-production for the videos showcasing the company’s wonderful Online Tutoring program that brings together working professionals in the corporate world with 1st graders who need help with learning to read. They truly make it easy for the tutor because it only takes 30 minutes a week and he/she doesn’t even need to leave the office! All you really need is a phone line and an internet connection. Neat huh? I hope to be able to showcase all that through compelling stories told by our interviewees at the elementary schools and corporations we’ve visited. It’s so much fun exploring the various institutions and learning about what they do. It also gives me a great peek into the world of elementary education here in the US, since I didn’t grow up here. Plus it’s always heartwarming to be surrounded by 6 year-olds. :) Many thanks to my friends/DPs Karl, Alex, Trevor & Josh for coming on these journeys with me.

Studio BE

I got a random phonecall from Karl one day asking if I’d wanted to teach theater kids about film for a week-long summer program. Having no experience in the world of theater, I thought this would be a good chance to learn a little about it, while sharing what I know with a group of very expressive kids. Working with Aaron Shapiro and Tamara Drew at Studio BE was a ton of fun. We came up with a weeklong plan that would enable the kids to plan and shoot their very own promo video for their upcoming musical, RagTime!

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgQ9KSyNq0A]

Reel Talent Productions

That’s what my Cabrini Connections Film Club kids have decided to name our production company. We’re currently in the midst of an 8-week long summer course where they’ll learn filmmaking techniques through producing their very own music videos! The kids chose, right from day one, that they’d be working on music videos for Lil Mama’s Lip Gloss, and the opening theme song for the anime Air Gear. Two very different pieces, with very different feels.

Just earlier this week, the kids had 3.5 hours to shoot everything they needed. While one group had scenes with dancers, make-up and lots of attitude, the other group had shots of an intense card game, reminding me of casino scenes from James Bond.¬†Over the next 4 weeks, we’ll be hard at work on editing, finishing and summing up with our big screening party. Whee!

Manchester United Soccer School & 1World Sports

The Manchester United Soccer School started off their US tour in Chicago, where kids from all over had to compete for the opportunity to spend a day with coaches from one of the world’s best soccer teams around. How exciting it was for Jane, Jenny and I to be there to capture all the action on video at UIC. :)

1World Sports knows that’s a lot of life lessons that can be taught through sports, so they designed the “Responsibilities of an Athlete” program to teach kids about them. Mixed that with running around under the sun doing soccer drills with the Man U coaches, and the kids went home with smiles on their faces (and plenty of cool Man U merchandise!).


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Invisible Seasons: First production experience

It was an eventful day of filming back on Wednesday. I had the privillege of following the action, taking production pictures as well as some footage for the film on Jane’s new Canon 7D.

Director Maria Finitzo, DP Jim, Sound Recordist Rich and I got off to a great start. Just as we pulled into the parking lot of Kelly High School, one of the biggest in the city, Coach Stan of their womens’ soccer team came out to us with warm greetings. The girls were lacing up their boots, getting all geared up for their match against Whitney Young High. Emotions were high because for the seniors in the team, their high school soccer experience was coming to a close.

It was also my first time meeting Elizabeth and Nancy, two remarkable young women¬†whose passion for the sportclearly shone through. What followed after on that field was plenty of action, accompanied by the soundtrack of Kelly High School’s cheers. And even though the girls put up a tough fight, the opposing team emerged victorious.

The girls took their loss graciously and did their best to provide emotional support for each other. As someone who was a team sport athlete myself at their age, I knew what it felt like for them. And that was one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a filmmaker… as much as I’d wanted to put that camera down and embrace them in big hugs too, I had to keep on rolling, knowing that the message embedded in the image will be incredibly powerful. But the girls took things in their stride. They exchanged comforting hugs, reassuring nods and strong words of encouragement, knowing that when they step back to see the bigger picture, they’ve grown tremendously from their time spent training with each other.

The final stop for the day was at the home of Chicago Sky President and CEO Margaret Stender. It’s amazing how much you learn about people just by stepping into their homes. It was a heartwarming scene of Margaret sharing a home-cooked meal with her children.

What an incredible day it was for a young filmmaker like myself. It sure brought back fond memories of my rowing days. I also got to witness firsthand the power of the moving image, and how rich a story we can tell with a well-placed camera.

Looking forward to more production adventures with Invisible Seasons!

Invisible Seasons is a Kartemquin Film currently in production. It explores the world of women and sports, Title IX, and how change takes place in a democracy. Set for a 2012 release, you can gain access to behind the scenes footage and trace our production journey by following us on Twitter and liking us on Facebook. Our official site is currently under construction and will be up soon!