Rainbow Family Tree

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Workshop Blog - Session Two
Hi all! Hope you're settling in and finding your way around OK... just to re-cap... make sure you have:

1 - joined the Virtual Storytellers group so that you receive the workshop tips I'll be posting to the group
2 - download the 'How to make a Digital Story' manual RFT_Overview.pdf
3 - check the workshop blog for updates on Tuesday and Friday mornings
4 - participate in activities posted on the workshop forum...
5 - download the legal release, sign and e:mail/post back to me ; )

I can't emphasise the PARTICIPATE point enough! At this point, if we were all in a room together... we'd be nervously commencing the STORY CIRCLE... which is what we'll be doing on-line in the workshop forum between now and Friday.

A digital storytelling workshop normally involves a fair bit of camaraderie and much-needed mutual support. The first one I ran, I chose to make a story too... and I had invited my Dad to be part of the group. I wanted to explore the difficult subject of how my sister and I talked about sexuality/christianity to our kids. I was really nervous about Dad knowing all about this as, in our family, we don't really talk about stuff and mostly he finds out what's going on via my Mum.

It turned out he was really encouraging... when I was worried that I was being too confrontational, his response was something like 'better out than in!'. My finished product is here - 'Dear Sister'

I tell this story because it's now time for us to share... this may bring up all sorts of shy/reluctant/obstinate 'I'll do it on my own terms!' responses in some of you... but, if you can manage to do it, it's worth it... and let's face it, the story you're about to make may well be quite revealing (as all the best ones are)... for me, I'd rather practice all the tricky self-exposure stuff in a safe space before venturing out into the big wide world out there...

For those of you who are looking ahead and wondering when we start the actual technology stuff - this is the rough schedule for the next five weeks (also in the overview guide)

Week One - Session One

Intro to Digital Storytelling – overview and some examples
Who am I? Why am I here? Name games… and a few sentences about your story

Week One - Session Two

Write down and share about 250 words about your story
Find 10-15 photos or images to ‘bring it to life’
Together these elements form your draft script

Week Two - Session Three
How to Edit – introductory concepts
Setting up your project, Software tutorials

Week Two - Session Four
Recording a ‘guide track’ voiceover

Week Three - Session Five
How to Edit 2 – Creative choices for sound and picture

Week Three - Session Six
Finding music/sound FX/images on-line

Week Four - Session Seven
Photo editing (PhotoPlus or photoshop.com)
Sound editing (Audacity)

Week Four - Session Eight
Pulling it together

Week Five - Session Nine

Fine tuning and tech checks

Week Five - Session Ten

Export and Upload

If you'd like to skip ahead and start familiarising yourself with the technology - download the MovieMaker guide (if you're on a PC) or iMovie (if you're on a Mac).

But remember... 90% of the hard work is working out what your story is about and who you're making it for... see you at the workshop forum for further exploration of all that ; )

Session Two Activity
Whether it's about some goofy thing that happened at the supermarket or some profound and identity-shaping memory... the stories we tell often get better in the re-telling. We watch people's reactions to the various plot points and descriptions of key characters... and we elaborate upon the 'good bits' and skip over the boring parts. A good digital story does the same thing - short (maximum 3 minutes) with a clear beginning, middle and end. With images and sometimes music that offer another level of meaning to the carefully chosen words. Of course there are heaps of good stories that don't fit the conventions... but 'conventional' is not necessarily a bad place to start.

There are lots of storytelling tips in the 'How to' guide... Who is your story for? What is it's main 'point'? What feeling (or questions) do you want viewers to come away with?

Session Two's Activity is all about helping us discover the 'essence' of our story... and making that message is communicated clearly and simply. It really helps to get feedback from other storytellers - but make sure, when you're offering feedback, you do so with respect and consideration.

So now... don't think too much about it... tell us what you're thinking of making a story about. What kind of images and music will you put with it. Don't censor/edit... just 'blah!' You might find yourself using parts of this exploration in your actual narration, down the track...

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The Queensland government is going to vote later this year on whether to recognise same sex non-bio parents, so the timing of this course is fantastic for me. I want to make something I could send to govt ministers who are undecided that will blow their socks off.

I'm thinking a "where did I come from" story for the babies could be really effective and heartwarming.

So my story is ostensibly for my children, when they get a bit older (i'm imagining them taking it to kindy to help explain their families to their classmates), but will be watched now by 'unbelievers' who are about to make some important decisions about my family.

It's main point is that we ARE a family and that we couldn't love them any more, even if we were biologically connected.

I want the adult viewers to come away feeling touched and all warm and gooey - 'awww, aint they NICE!'

So these are my FIRST THOUGHT of a narrative.

Where did I come from?

You have two mummies. (nice photo of the 4 of us)
Mummy Loulou and Mama Molly
We feel so lucky to have you!

You know that you need a man and a woman to make a baby. (maybe something cartoony & quirky for this bit)
We got Uncle Harry to help us.
We went to the doctor and she mixed Mama Molly's eggs with Uncle Harry's sperm.
That's called IVF!
Then she put the eggs back in Mama Molly's tummy. (photo of Louise with me pregnant)

We must have done it right because we got TWO babies! (photos of them as newborns)

Some people say that to be a Mummy you have to grow a baby in your tummy.
We don't think that's true.
A mummy is someone who
cuddles you
tickles you
reads to you
puts band-aids on you
takes you to your friend's house
makes your birthday cake

A mummy is someone who loves you more than anyone else in the world can.
More than you will ever imagine...until you grow up and have children of your own.

Most kids have a mummy and a daddy. (photo of Jade's family)
Some kids only have one mummy (photo of Amadeus & Andrea). Or a mummy and a daddy and a stepmum (photo of Tom's family). Or two daddies (stick figure drawing?). Or their grandma.(stick figure drawing?)
You have two mummies. (another family photo)
We feel so lucky to have you.
We love you very much


Too syrupy??
The tears thing worked for me (finding tissue as I write)... and I don't think too syrupy at all!

Music can help tip a piece one way or another on the sentimentality scale so you might want to think carefully about what's most appropriate... something upbeat? or an old rendition of a nursery rhyme? or maybe no music... just accompanying low level atmos track of the kids playing? Jamendo (see links forum) offers a great range of creative commons licensed music and listening to a range of stuff can help you work out where you're going...

Also - try and brainstorm laterally with your choice of images... sometimes a simple photo-that-goes-with-the-words is good... sometimes something completely 'contradictory' or abstract can serve to illustrate your point...

I think it's going to be a kick-ass piece Molly... and I can't wait to follow up with you in the months (and years) to come to see what impact it has...
Thanks Molly for being the first brave one to post something. I love the description of all the types of families...do you know two daddies who would give you a picture? And a Grandma ? I like the real life people picture idea more than the stick figure drawing....it looks like you don't actually have a real life example if you use a line drawing....it might be good to use all real or all drawing. Just a thought!
I love it!! It's sooky la la, but sooky la la is a good thing. I particularly liked the messages about what a mother is.
I'm thinking I might have a bash at making a story this round too... my ideas are scarcely articulate yet but I figure I'll post them here because that's what I'm hoping you'll all do... and because feedback would be appreciated!

I have a title: 'Abandoning my box?'
The piece is about: my multiple identities over the years and my (obsessive?) need to define myself... lesbian/bi/queer/single/mum/filmmaker/researcher? My concern about being 'truthful' to some inner essence... balanced by my fear that other people 'don't get me' or approve or will think I'm duplicitous if I use different labels in different contexts...

Who is it for? Me, really... a challenge to myself... a call to action - can I really give up my need for approval?

My whole family is struggling at the moment to come to terms with my Mum's illness (cancer, possibly terminal) and I've realised I want some kind of 'closure' with her... in my fantasy reality this involves her whole-hearted acceptance and approval of me as I really am... But here's the catch... she says she does accept me... so maybe her 'approval' will never look the way I want it to? Maybe I need to just get on with it... give up the comfort of 'my box' and venture out into the real world... one in which I don't need other people's approval or acceptance?

I'm really still brain-storming (an activity better suited to big sheets of white paper)... but I have got lots of photos of myself in various (contrasting) incarnations... and I know I want the piece to be quite light and upbeat... and not too academic/philosophical or wordy... which means I still need to do some 'distillation'; maybe find some anecdotes that represent times when I have felt less-than-accepted...

Will keep y'all posted as it continues to unfold ; )
This could get quite in-depth if you wanted it to... Identity is something I've struggled with too and I've found that when you tell someone you're gay then, initially, that's the only label they have of you regardless of what your occupation is or if you're a mother/sister/daughter. Sometime after a while they begin to realise you're more than just a lesbian and just another person in society. Identity is always changing as you go through the different stages of life... and someone told me to think of yourself as a jigsaw puzzle with each piece representing a different part of who you are. I love that concept and have kept it with me for many years now.

It seems like you might have two stories here, one about defining your identity and then the other being about your mum's acceptance/approval. It's interesting how people say they can accept you as a lesbian but not approve of your relationship... or any other life decisions you may make as a lesbian such as having children or getting married.
Interesting ideas there. I spent most of my life caring what people thought of me and struggling to work out how others stoppped caring about other peoples' opinions. One of my friends used to say that it was none of his business what people thought of him and many others had words of wisdom that I frustratingly never got. When I started coming out as Transgendered, however, it felt different. I started realising how people were reacting the only way they knew how. Each person reacted in their own individual way that had absolutely nothing to do with me. That was a comfort. They each had a past, they were raised in a certain way, they were programmed, they had totally unique experiences, and they were reacting based on all of that. So many people struggle with their own gender and sexuality labels, norms, expectations and discrimination, that I think they're not reacting to us but reacting to what is going on inside themselves. They feel uncomfortable within themselves because of the challenging ideas we have introduced, which is totally different to what we often think, that people are feeling uncomfortable with us.
Hiya Sean! This is what I love about group storytelling... we all get to swap notes... your words of wisdom are excellent.... and I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I just need to shift my perspective... be more generous about what I give out rather than so prescriptive about what I want to receive... it'll be interesting if I can craft all the turmoil into something 'short and sweet' a la digital story ; )
This is a shorter version of an article I did for Blaze last year. In essence it says what I would hope to say in a virtual story - I need to change it ...but it's a start

O.M.G - A Uniting Church Minister AND a Lesbian?

I often find myself in conversations with strangers about life, the universe and everything. Invariably they get around to asking me what I do for a living. Inevitably people are surprised to hear that I am a Uniting Church Minister. Sometimes it’s harder to come out as clergy than to come out as queer.

There is so much hype about homophobia in the church …but let me tell you that’s not true of every church. Sure there are a large number of churches where we are not welcome but there is also a growing number where we are. I have been the minister at Blackwood Uniting now for three years and I have felt very welcome. My partner has experienced a similar embrace by the congregation where she started work as their Minister a year ago.

As I work with the GLBTI community I constantly hear stories about the struggle to be Christian & queer. I have listened to the stories rejection by various religious groups and I feel intensely sad for people who have had so called “Christian people” try to witness to them of the evils of homosexuality. I have a passion to call the church to account for this abusive behaviour. I have a greater passion to allow people to find ways to explore their queerness & spirituality, to “do queer church”. I believe in a Great Spirit of love (which I name as God)…and I DON"T believe in a God of judgement and condemnation.
hey Jenski,
yeah, I've often found it tricky to come out as a Christian as well. I love the idea of a story about churches that are not all condemning and judgemental... What kind of images are you thinking of for your story? When I was reading, I was picturing some very stereotypical images: of clergy, of church "folk"; of queer people - and then those juxtaposed with images of you - utterly human and "normal" (with neither horns nor a halo!)... It'll be good to see what you come up with!
I will have to have a chat with you another time - I am making a documentary on how people resolve faith and sexuality. That idea of 'two closets' has come up a couple of times
Made a few type o's....and missed a few words...oh well


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