Monday, November 23, 2009


A few days ago Tom put his entire 2.25 hour first assembly onto 3x5 cards, each scene with a number. He color coded them, green for act 1: Introductions, yellow for act 2: Understanding the issues, and blue for act 3: Resolutions. Of course it is not as simple as that. You don't introduce everything right away, and some issues will not be resolved, but it is a helpful way to give form to what we want to accomplish.

He taped the cards in sequence onto the walls of our editing room, and then gave me a stack of white cards to begin my process of rethinking some of what he has created. I put parenthesis around scenes I think we could eliminate, take some cards off the wall all together, and add cards where I think another scene belongs. I change the order, and write question marks when I can't make up my mind if a scene is right or not. Not unexpectedly, I have added more than I have taken away, but at this point that's okay. Things are feeling less chunky, more intertwined. Eventually some scenes that we love will have to go, but I console myself in the knowledge that they may reappear in the shorts we will make once the major film is completed.

Now Tom starts to re-edit. His first goal is to shorten the introduction, which felt long and confusing. Initially we had imagined many places where we would present a montage of images, followed by a well developed episode. But as we work with the material, the montages of many children doing many things, seem to be falling away in favor of longer scenes. Unfortunately that means we will not be able to show as much of a range of the activities of the year, but it felt discombobulating to pack as much in as we were doing, and didn't give time to develop anything. I am playing with how we can use shorter, more focused montages--for example of the children's portraits, to introduce certain kinds of scenes, and to emphasize themes.

I find all this so exhilarating. Maybe this just shows my age and lack of computer savy, but staring at the wall of cards, I feel the wholeness of the project for the first time.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Don't we all love praise? Alfie Kohn warns against the dangers of praising children--that it will actually keep them from putting effort into their work. I can see the danger, but I would make a difference in terms of the kinds of praise, and when and how it is given. It seems to me that when a person is acknowledged warmly for their effort, for reaching a goal, for overcoming an obstacle, they bask in the glow of recognition, and feel their work has meaning. I think that is appropriate praise. So now I will not only bask, but I will repeat the praise I just received!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I uploaded a new 3 minute teaser to Youtube last week. I'm getting a bit more savvy about how one goes about using social media. Of course everything is relative. I should probably be moving this blog to a better site, but I started to do it and got overwhelmed.

Back to the new teaser. I sent out announcements to everyone in my address book, and to my facebook friends, and announced it on August to June's Facebook page. The views are coming in much faster than with the 7 minute piece. I think that is because A) we have more fans on Facebook than we had when I posted the first piece, and B) those folks who have responded to the project now recognize it and are interested enough to check things out right away. We are not getting the kinds of hits that shots of dogs falling off diving boards get, but I'm happy.

So I then decided it was time to write to K'nex and ask them if they'd be interested in giving a donation. We show kids having such a good time with K'nex and learning so much along the way...but if the current trends aren't challenged, fewer and fewer teachers will find room for manipulative materials what with the emphasis on multiple choice tests! I wanted to direct them to our Youtube site, and since I was sending a snail mail letter, I thought the best thing would be to give them a name they could type into Google rather than the string of numbers and letters that identifies the site. So I tried typing the name we have given to this version: AUGUST TO JUNE bringing life to school.

Well, the first entry that comes up is our teaser. But underneath that is a listing for Why Call Yourself a Witch? A Youtube clip whose site somehow has a connection to our film (though I can't see what it is) and also to spiders on drugs. Hmmm Didn't seem like the best introduction for a sponsor to see. I found a way around it by suggesting to the K'nex person that she put the title into Youtube's search, which has nary a mention of witches or hallucinating spiders. Talley Ho! On to my next challenge!!