MARGARET E JACOBSEN
Our stories are important. Our stories matter. Produced by Her just ended its 5-week program, where the purpose was to teach and encourage girls to tell their stories. To tell the stories of other girls and women. Media is dominated by males, and the stories of women are so often left out, or if included, more often than not, depict women as a sexual character/love interest. Produced by Her is a program that wants to change the current climate. It wants to disrupt the way things are, starting with girls, and giving them opportunities to learn about film, and how to get stories shown.
Photos by Intisar Abioto
Produced by Her was a program created by Vox Siren, a creative change agency, with the help and support of partners like METRO, Travel Portland, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Cycle Oregon, Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, Upswell, and NW Documentary. Over the last month, 11 girls, between the ages of 12-17, worked alongside women who worked in media, to create their own documentaries. Through a large brainstorming session, each group came up with their own ideas, what stories about women they felt were underrepresented. From there, they conducted interviews with authorities on the topics they had chosen. They learned to be writers, producers, directors, editors, audio engineers and cinematographers.
I had the opportunity of leading a writing/blogging workshop. While I knew why this program was important, why it mattered, and why it was so powerful, didn’t hit me until I was standing in a room, watching these girls sit with headphones on, editing their films. When I asked each group what they were working on, they described their films, and their reasoning for choosing to focus on that particular subject. I had come with a very specific idea of what I wanted to teach in my workshop, but while listening to them tell me about their experiences filming and meeting so many different people throughout Portland, I scratched what I wanted to talk about. Instead we talked about why THEIR stories mattered. Mattered as much as the ones they were telling. Too often in media we see only a few of our stories told. And usually the journey to get to a platform wide enough to spread the story, was a long one. As females, our opportunities, especially in media, are limited and far between. As of right now, there is a 5 to 1 ratio of men to women, working in the film industry. When it comes to cinematographers, that is made up of 98% males, while only 2% are women. When it comes to writers it’s 85% men, and 15% women. The stats continue like this in most roles, like producers, and editors, and directors.
BUT! When a woman is writing/directing a film, we see more female characters. We don’t see them the same way that we often do in a film directed by a man, but we see them as more complex. With more layers. We see them as ourselves. Our stories get told when a woman is apart of the creating. Which is why when I was first introduced to Produced by Her, all I could say was “YES!” I was especially thrilled that this was focused on youth, on young girls. It’s important for them to understand that not only should they tell their stories, but they are capable of creating ways to tell them. Observing these girls sit with their adult mentors, and not only ask questions, but suggest brilliant ideas of how to cut something, or point out why a scene mattered, was amazing to witness. We need to create more spaces like this for girls. More ways to help them express who they are, and help others share narratives that have made them who they are.
Photos by Rachel Bracker & Kerri Lynne Thorp
Portland is a city that is known for its creativity, its known for supporting art. I want our city to continue to be this, but not only for adults. I want this to be a city that supports girls creating and building. The last 5 weeks have been life changing for some of these girls, at least that’s what they told me when I asked about what their thoughts were about the program. But summer will come to a close, and school will start back up. We need programs like this to continue, to support our girls, but most importantly, to support their stories. Because they’ve only just begun.
Flatball Radio | Kelly Hansen – “Why I Hate Self Officiation”
by Matt Mastrantuono
July 27 2015
Mural Shows Legacy of Black Women in History
by Donovan M. Smith
July 23 2015
A Rightful Place
by Olivia Olivia
The Portland Observer
July 21, 2015
Mural Unveiled Saturday In Portland Highlights Achievements Of Black Women
by Christina Belasco
Oregon Public Broadcasting