PLEASANTVILLE, NY – How do you define community? What matters most in your community? How can we think more deeply about the positive contribution we can make to our community? These were just a few of the questions posed to a group of students hailing from the Bronx (via the Chappaqua Summer Scholarship Program) who arrived at the Jacob Burns Film Center this summer to participate in our program, Reel Change: Community Visions.
Instructors were careful not to project an identity upon students, and, rather, tasked groups with generating a list of communities they identified as being a part of. Fan clubs, school, online networks, church, neighborhood, gaming culture, all made the list, illustrating the many affinity groups teens today subscribe to.
One particular group (Darian, Rene, Phillix, & Brandon) chose to produce a video PSA focused in on the Gamer community. Sure, the promise of shooting an action sequence was appealing, but first they’d have to hone in on a unique message conveying strength of the community. Challenging the stereotype that games are a waste of time, the group decided to illustrate how gaming networks afford gamers the opportunity to find like-minded peers, and even, friends in virtual space.
"We chose the topic of video games because in society today, many people think of it as a self-simulator for violence, which it’s not. So we decided to show all the positive effects of video games on the human mind.” -Brandon
Built into each project was an additional assignment to create an infographic element. Groups engaged in research and then presented the information in a single image inspired by their PSA providing further insight into their message and support for their argument. Looking to match their aesthetic, the group (helmed by the research efforts of Rene) developed a data visualization out of the classic characters and backdrop of the original Super Mario Bros.
The course culminated in a screening launching the videos and infographics into the world. Their weeks of innovation, research and hard work were celebrated. And while this marked the end of making it did not mark an end to the life their projects which were now primed and ready to spread their message.
WATCH their video here: http://youtu.be/QI0l8ls-1h4
At the end of the program, the team reflected on the research and creative efforts that had gone into their projects.
"In my research, I discovered that video games aren't just a simple pass of time to relax, they're works of art, they can also help treat people if it is applied correctly. This is important because it is a positive view on a topic that is usually looked down upon. In the process of making the infographic and the video, I often thought that I had the whole thing planned out, but there are so many different options in different areas, that the only way to get the message across, was teamwork." -Phillix
This project was lead by JBFC Faculty Theresa Dawson & Sean Weiner: http://www.burnsfilmcenter.org/education/faculty