Posts filed under ‘Digital Citizenship’
The Third Annual Young Minds Digital Times Competition presented by KidThrive.org, encourages students in grades 6-12, for free, to create short films, documentaries, and public service announcements. Registration is now open!
“The competition is a way to honor the amazing work kids are generating in the digital creative arts,” says Jaclyn Bell, Competition Director, “This is the next wave of digital education; not just knowing the tools, but being able to use them well and manipulate their boundaries to produce something relevant, meaningful, and in our opinion, beautiful. Plus, we have some surprises and further opportunities coming up for students once registration is underway.”
The competition features two tracks: Young Filmmakers “Doing Good” and Young Filmmakers Freeform. In the “Doing Good” Track, students are invited to create public service announcements relating to social issues the public should be informed of, or relating to an organization that works towards social good. In the Freeform Track, students can enter films on any topic into six different categories: documentary, short film, animation, music video, non-moving movie, and comedic creation.
A Grand Prize Winner from each track receives a prize package to attend the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. First place winners in each category and age division (6-8 grades and 9-12 grades) take home $200 and Judges Choice honorees receive $100. The school with the most student film entries that make it pass the Public Voting Stage will also win $1000.
The chance for the public vote will end March 30th, and the films that make it to the second round will be viewed and critiqued by industry directors, actors, filmmakers and producers.
Competition registration runs from October 4th, 2010 to February 18, 2011, with films due by March, 19, 2011. Films enter a three tiered voting process, beginning with public voting March 22-30, 2010. Winner announcements will be posted May 20, 2011 on the Young Minds Digital Times website.
Documentary films differ from the typical Hollywood movies due to one clear reason.
While movies tend to be fictional stories that are acted, documentaries are non-fictional stories about real people and real events unfolding, often, in front of the camera. Your goal is not to develop a fictional story, but to essentially to tell a realistic and true story by presenting facts and interviews.
Types of Documentaries
First things first: You need to decide what kind of documentary you would like to pursue. There are many different kinds, the most common of which are expository, observational and participatory.
Expository documentaries speak directly to the viewer, often in the form of an authoritative commentary employing voiceovers or titles, proposing a strong argument and point of view. This style of documentary is often biographical or historical in subject. Examples of expository documentaries are TV shows and films like “A&E Biography,” “America’s Most Wanted,” science and nature documentaries, or Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” (1990).
Observational documentaries attempt to simply and spontaneously observe lived life. Becoming popular first in the 1960s, this mode of film focuses on individual human characters in ordinary life situations. Think of all the un-scripted “reality” television that is popular today. Shows like MTV’s “Made,” slice of life programs like “Little People Big World” and “Deadliest Catch” are all examples of this “fly-on-the-wall” type of documentary making. The filmmaker is the one who observes but tries not to influence or alter the events being captured on camera.
Participatory documentaries believe that it is impossible for the act of filmmaking to not influence or alter the events being captured. Not only is the filmmaker part of the film, but the viewer also gets a sense of how situations in the film are affected or altered by the filmmaker’s presence. For example, Morgan Spurlock’s film “Super Size Me” put the filmmaker himself in front of the camera to tell the story about what could happen to the human body when it is sustaining itself on fast food alone. The filmmaker’s experiences are incorporated into the film, and the creator is the center of the story. The encounter between filmmaker and subject becomes a critical element of the film in order to find a “truth” through the encounter.
The key to documentaries is research and interviews. Ideally, you as the filmmaker will learn as much about your topic, or more, than your audience. This is why people like Ken Burns make documentaries about things they know absolutely nothing about: to educate themselves. Otherwise, you are not making a documentary, you are going to end up with a commercial for your beliefs.
Unlike the typical short film process, however, most documentary filmmakers come up with their narrative, point, structure and storyboard in the editing process, not pre-production. As a documentary filmmaker, you will need to change your approach to creating your film; otherwise you may end up influencing what you shoot with your own opinions.
Start by writing a proposal on what you want to do, how you go about doing it and what kind of research (library, living people, photos, etc.) to include in your documentary. Create a rough outline of the shots you think you will want to have in your documentary and send invitations to those experts you want to interview in advance.
When you are interviewing people, or gathering data, you have to ask questions that do not introduce personal bias/propaganda into the documentary. This can be very difficult. Keep the questions general and just let them talk. You never know what you might get. Select people who have knowledge of or are interested in your topic. If you get many interviews you will have a more diverse and interesting piece.
When filming, do not chat up the subjects off-camera. Off camera they might give you all their perfect, natural sound bites and you’ll wish you’d been rolling. The same bites will be forced or flat if you have your interviewer repeat them for the camera. Also, make sure they know that you are going to edit what you are shooting. They will get much more comfortable once they know you are going to edit.
Mix up your shots to keep things interesting. For example, if everything you film is a medium shot of people walking, your edits will be incredibly boring. Get wide shots to establish location and get tight shots if the situation allows. Extreme close ups of the subjects are excellent if they are discussing something with passion. Get cutaways like legs walking, hands writing, etc. These types of shots are called B-Roll footage. B-Roll footage helps back up your narration with visuals and helps tell the story.
Get lots of shots. Vary using the camera as a handheld and with a tripod. Plan on getting many more shots than you can imagine you will need. You will need them and may even wish you had more.
Once you get to post production, your job is to tell a story. Throw out any footage, no matter how lovely the shot, that doesn’t advance the story. Be sure to use your B-Roll footage effectively and add in captions and graphics as needed. Plus, remember to put the name of those you interviewed on the screen with the subject. Include their full name and their title, just like they do in news programs. Your end product should tie all the information and interviews, footage, etc. together in an interesting way.
Documentaries are a unique film genre that can persuade, educate, and entertain. Is there a story out there you want to document? Is there a moment in time you want to capture? Is there a message you want to convey to the masses? Decide on your purpose, research and grab a camera. Just be sure to keep it entertaining, informative and factual. Only then does it appear to be much more realistic and believable.
ReadWriteWeb shares that in a study of 14-21 year-olds, MySpace found that, “Some 36% of the respondents said they found it easier to talk about themselves online than in the real world, leading them to share more about themselves using technology.” For their younger counterparts who’ve never known life without social networks and text messaging, I’d guess that the percentage preferring to share online would be even higher.
MySpace’s numbers make total sense to us. For nearly a decade, OneSeventeen Media’s team members have been creating interactive experiences for kids online; we see technology as an opportunity to connect with kids who don’t always feel comfortable reaching out for help or support in face-to-face interactions. This isn’t to say online interactions should replace real life ones, but often the right online tool can serve as the first step in improving offline relationships.
So often it’s the doom-and-gloom reports about kids online that catch mainstream media attention, and Anastasia Goodstein presents a fresh look at information and youth behavior online:
“- 63% of teens said they DO NOT USE social networks to make fun of other students
- 87% of teens said they HAVE NOT posted naked or semi-naked photos or videos of themselves.
- 76% of teens said they HAVE NOT signed on to someone else’s account without permission
- 72% of teens HAVE NOT posted personal information that they normally would not have revealed in public
I would say wow, most teens are using this technology pretty responsibly…”
While there’s still room for improvement and educating kids as digital citizens, I greatly appreciate Anastasia framing the numbers to give kids the benefit of the doubt. There’s a strong majority of kids choosing to do the right things online, and that’s encouraging news!
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Leading Innovation: Implementing Effective 1:1 Technology Programs at The Friday Institute at North Carolina State University. I was able to participate as both a vendor and attendee and gained fantastic insight from the experience. It’s inspiring to hear from leaders across North Carolina who are connecting with technology to do right by kids in school.
David Warlick keynoted the event, and it’s incredibly encouraging to see so many school leaders engaged in making flat classrooms a reality in their districts. There were valuable connections to make with the other attendees – superintendents, principals and classroom teachers. Educators I spoke with were particularly excited about participating in the Young Minds Digital Times Film Competition and pioneering PlumbBrain Micro-Communities in their classrooms. I’ve been in touch with many of my new acquaintances since the event ended on Friday.
The Friday Institute (FI) provided a paperless institute – the first I’ve been to! Not only is this a fantastic was to conserve paper and money, but they’ve also made all of the resources available to you! Both the institute wiki and Ning are “on-growing” communities where educators and laypeople alike are invited to join the conversation about 1:1 computing environments. You’ll also find all the handouts from the different presenters available through the wiki. Please check them out, enjoy, then invite any like-minds you know!
(Pictured from top to bottom: teachers collaborating during an immersive project-based learning simulation and David Warlick looking on as one district makes their comprehensive plan for 1:1 connectivity in their schools. Photos by Amy Strecker)
“The notion that predators are using the Internet as an L.L. Bean catalog, that’s not what’s happening.” — David Finkelhor, Study Author
The man who first brought us the staggering statistic that 1 in 7 children would be solicited online, David Finkelhor, is now reaching out to explain his data in context. In his most recent study, Finkelhor explains that the online world is no more dangerous than the offline world, and that the largest threat of child abuse comes from individuals kids know in real life, not online.
The entire article by Lenore Skenazy is worth a read because it is packed with useful information put into valuable context. From Skenazy’s piece:
“Is letting your kids go online the same as dropping them off at the Vince Lombardi Rest Stop in fishnet stockings at 3 a.m.?
A lot of parents think it is. Or maybe worse. My husband and I took our time letting our oldest boy, who is 13, start his social networking, though that was because we were worried it was like dropping him off at the Vince Lombardi Rest Stop to do his homework—we figured it would never get done. But the towering fear that the second a kid goes online he or she becomes cyberjailbait turns out to be way off base. According to new research, the danger online is teeny-tiny unless your kids are running into chat rooms, typing, “Anyone here like ‘em young?” and posting photos of themselves licking lollipops. Naked.”
We don’t want to begin to belittle the value of teaching kids to be smart, digital citizens and continuously monitoring their online activities; however, some context around popularly quoted statics is useful in considering the big picture and helping parents and companies make decisions and polices that are proactive in keeping kids safe online, not rooted in fear of misunderstood threats. Kid safety is our top priority at OneSeventeen Media, and we diligently seek out the most accurate information to share with our community while proactively working to create safe online spaces.
(Image found here)