Young Filmmakers Reunite for Media Center Orientation and Opening Day
The larger group reunites in Freetown to prepare for Media Center Orientation and the official public opening of the center on Saturday, August 7. During the early part of the week we check in with the carpenter, welder and internet provider to review and confirm next steps with the various projects in progress to support the opening of the Media Center. All seems to be progressing well and we receive a decent lead to executives at Comium (potential Internet provider) where we might be able to negotiate a partnership or media trade to decrease the cost of providing Internet at the media center. Providing Internet with decent speed at the center is by far one of our biggest ticket items. The best price for 256 kps—before sponsorship—comes in at about $4000 USD for the set up/year. Wish us luck in charming the executives at Comium; and if you feel blessed with your fast connection, consider donating to help us get the team Internet access in Freetown (https://weowntv.myshopify.com/products/make-a-donation.)
Media Center Orientation begins on Wednesday with a group of 21 (Barmmy Boy is traveling and will join us next week). On Sunday, Alex Reiser from North American team arrived to assist with orientation training and to set up the sound room connected to the editing suite. With everyone milling around the Media Center there is lots of energy and everyone is looking forward to working on their projects in the new space.
Reunion and Day 1: After arrivals, Banker gathers everyone into the parlor at the front of the building to welcome them and to outline the schedule for the coming days. Arthur adds his comments and leads everyone in prayers and blessings for the orientation and our opening on Saturday. The majority of the day is spent screening work resulting from last year’s workshop and all the new videos recently published to the website. Seeing the result of all the hard work definitely gets the group fired up and there is much discussion about different projects that they can pursue going forward. This is a great segue way to introducing their homework for the following day. Each young filmmaker is to develop a three-minute pitch for a project they would like to complete within the next year. They are to be prepared to present their concept the following morning.
Day 2: Today, each person presents their idea to the group for consideration. When all presentations are complete, four groups are created for discussions regarding each of the ideas. Individual participants, with the help of Alex, Banker and Arthur, lead the group discussion about their idea to further refine their concepts and complete the task of developing a 3-sentence pitch to summarize their film or media project.
In parallel to the group discussion, the participants begin small breakout sessions to learn more about their email and website accounts. They review how to login; how to read messages and comments; and how to personally reply. For many, this is their first email account.
Day 3: Banker and Alex begin the morning by working with the group to set up a production studio for the shooting of everyone’s 3-sentence pitch. They review the importance of lighting, sound, staging and camera position. As each choice is made in developing a make-shift studio it’s explained and the young filmmakers are engaged in making the final choices with them.
Once the studio is set, each person is tapped while they give their pitch. In parallel, we continue with the Internet introductions and hit the town to distribute invitations to the following day’s festivities. The day concludes with everyone working together to get the Media Center ready for its official Opening.
Opening Day: The center looks great as we set it up to show off how each room will be purposed for the film and media work to be done by the team in Sierra Leone. We get creative with some of our “staging” because in fact the carpenter is still busy out back building our furniture and there are still a few remaining deliveries to receive. The place shines and it is soon filled with guests (even though they have to greet the rain to make their way to us).
As people make their way in and our seated, Banker introduces a music video to the crowd. As everyone is settled in, Arthur welcomes the men and woman in attendance—representing family, friends, local filmmaking groups, broadcast stations and other community leaders. He introduces Alex, Paula and then Banker who continues with the program describing the WeOwnTV history.
Arthur then introduces, Alluspa who shares the impact of the program on his life and the lives of his peers. Following Alluspa, Banker distributes to the mentors their certificates of completion for their specific training and then we invite two guests to assist in the presentation to all the young filmmakers of completion certificates for Media Center Orientation. Michaella, one of the female students, is invited up to relay the appreciation of WeOwnTV to our guests in attendance. Banker concludes the program by screening films for the audience. The films are greeted with great enthusiasm from the audience members. Finally guests are invited to tour the space.
As the event concludes, the WeOwnTV crew is invited to the house for a celebration party—the highlight a special goat dinner. The gathering is full of smiles, laughter and great food (we will definitely miss the cook next week—smile).