My Experience at 4th World Media Lab

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Hi everyone!

May was a very exciting time. I was delighted that A Brief History of Time Travel was apart of the 4th World Indigenous Media Lab, a year-long training and mentorship program for indigenous filmmakers that is run by SIFF in partnership with Longhouse Media, Sundance Institute and ITVS (Independent Television Service).

The program consisted of a two-day workshop with ITVS during the Seattle International Film Festival, which is the biggest film festival in the US (Seattle actually has one of the nation’s highest per capita of movie goers).

I got to workshop A Brief History of Time Travel those two days. It was an intense overhaul of information, from writing grants and planning budgets, to what makes a perfect work sample.  But the best part was working on perfecting the “3-minute pitch.” I always get nervous speaking in front of a crowd, so it was really nice to practice pitching a project in front of a friendly audience.

Speaking for 3 minutes straight about the film was pretty daunting; it’s hard to make sure that all the technical information is coming across and weave a visual tale using your words, while at the same time conveying what makes you so passionate about the subject.

For those of you who are filmmakers, I wrote a blog about some of the top pitching practices that you can check out here.

After the ITVS Producer’s Workshop, we attended a panel about the future of Indigenous Filmmaking and watched 2 amazing films: Trudell and The Dark Horse, both which I highly recommend you watch.

Trudell (2005), directed and produced by Heather Rae, took over a decade to complete; it’s a biopic of John Trudell, from his early days as an activist, leading the Indian Movement’s 1969 occupation of Alcatraz, to his later years as a poet and performer. In terms of editing, it’s very impressionistic and uses a mix of art, archival footage of news programs and old interviews with Trudell.

The Dark Horse (2014), starring Cliff Curtis, is an inspirational mentor narrative based off of the 2003 documentary Dark Horse. It’s about a Maori chess champion who, after suffering a mental breakdown, teaches chess to disadvantaged youth. It’s a very emotional and beautiful film!

In all, the event was a great learning experience for an independent filmmaker like myself. It was priceless to hear directly from the funders about what they’re looking for when they’re going through grants applications. I’ve applied for grants before, and it always seems that you are sending it off into the great abyss, and a month or two later you finally get an email telling you if you’ve made it or not, or sometimes nothing at all. But meeting the people who read your grant material was such a valuable opportunity to learn what in particular they’re looking for in a proposal, and what makes a project stick out: a strong, compelling story, understanding your audience, an organized and well thought out production schedule, your personal connection to the film, among many other things.

In June we’ve been continuing animating certain segments of the film as well as continuing the editing process. Yes, we’re still at it! I’ve been comparing documentary editing to molding something out of clay; you can sort of see the picture form, but you just have to keep on chipping away. Here are some pictures of parts of the animation that we’re working on, from one of the first time travel stories ever written. I’m really excited to be working with Elijah Evenson, an amazing local artist here in Seattle.

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I finally have another short clip for everyone in the time travel society. Stay tuned on the Kickstarter page for the password. I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for bearing with us during this process. We want to bring the best possible film out for you all!

Gisella