This column features stories from students exploring the intersection of creativity and technology through Hive Learning Network programs in NYC and Chicago.
My dream is to become a filmmaker. Whenever I watch movies, I watch the special features to see the movie-making process. Then I listen to the director's commentary to understand the director's vision. I love video and film. I also go to an arts center in the Bronx called DreamYard. When I was at one of their after-school programs, I heard that DreamYard would be having their first Fashion Week, which is a new fashion program for teens. Also, there was a section of Fashion Week that involved photo, video and documentary filmmaking. I couldn't resist the opportunity. In my mind, it was my chance to do something amazing. It was my chance to push away negative thoughts of teens and show that we can be creative and do more than what's expected of us.
When I was told that I'd be the only participant in the photo/video fashion segment, it was a surprise, a relief and a challenge. It was surprising because I thought other people were going to come and help. It was a relief because I had control of how the video was going to come out, and it was challenging because I would be doing most of the work. Thankfully, I did have help and coaching from one of DreamYard's teaching artists, Gabrielle Rivera. Working on the documentary, my first thought was, "What would be my purpose?" Fashion isn't very intriguing to me, but seeing everybody enjoy themselves in the workshop, learning about fashion history, styles, and creating clothes that show who you are made me enthusiastic. Fashion isn't the typical art form that everybody is used to. I wanted to explore the idea that you don't have to pick up a paintbrush to be called an artist.
As soon as I got a camera in my hands, I immediately started to take pictures. At first, I was a little nervous, but I became more comfortable the more pictures I took. I captured pictures of what people wore on their own as well as the clothes they created in the Fashion Week program. Gabrielle took pictures of them cutting, sewing and customizing their clothes and of them learning about styles and history. I shot a lot of b-roll, which is general footage of people doing things. I also got a dolly shot of my friends researching different styles by sitting on a rolling table while Gabrielle pushed me.
My documentary consisted mostly of interviews I did with other teens in the fashion program. I set up an interview station and had people come in one at a time to do the interviews. I asked a few questions to explore the idea of fashion as art. I did these interviews to interact with the other teens in the fashion program more and get their perspective on fashion and the workshop experience. I even learned about fashion by interviewing all of them. For example, I learned that Coco Chanel helped make women's clothing more comfortable.
The whole documentary making process was amazing! I was interacting with kids my age and adults learning and composing something new everyday. I learned many new aspects of film and fashion that I wouldn't have known if I didn't do this program, things that will help me in the future when I want to become a director. For example, I learned how to interact better with people and how to edit the footage I shot.
The Fashion Week program really brings out your true self. When the kids in the program were walking on the runway, I was blown away by their outfits. The shyest kids came out with fierce, amazing attitudes. They came out of their shells, saying, "I love fashion, this is who I am." I was able to be myself and find people on my level and so did everybody else, which is spectacular because people don't always feel safe being themselves in this world. Not only that, but I feel like I can do so much more creatively and show the world what we, as teens, can do. I've also been inspired to do things in other art forms, such as painting and writing. All of these skills and techniques will help me in the future when I become a filmmaker.