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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As a transgendered person (female-to-male) I just have to say that it would fantastic if you could show how proud you are of your daughter. I can see my parents are proud of me but I do wish one of them had realised what was really going on with me when I was a child. How different my life would have been if one or both of my parents had acknowledged that I was male and that I'd always been male and then helped me celebrate that fact.
I know u will work out a way :)
OK I'm going to start afresh after a good night's sleep...
Scrap last night's uncertainty. I did wake up with a head full of ideas about the stories I could write - for example about the making of our chuppah, the engaging with what "christian" means and the ramifications of being unacceptable to certain sectors of my partner's family nt only because I am a woman, but because I'm not christian... couple that with my exgf's accusation that I am anti-christian and that in fact being the first point of contact between my partner and me on Pink Sofa!
:-) (I think it's a funny story)...
So... the story I'm going to make tells about what happened when Bronwen wanted to introduce me to her maternal grandparents. These are the only grandparents left in our lives, as mine have all died. I wrote a piece on my blog www.mersigns.blogspot.com about the La La La La factor of her cousins when we stayed with her aunt in Brisbane. And it is kind of funny in a bittersweet gagging reflex way. But I chose a different slant for the digital story - to focus not so much on the la la la la factor as on the negative space around us; the elephant in the room kind of factor.
I'll need to create a lot of artwork for this story, because that's how I like to work, and I'm kind of camera shy so there aren't many usable photos.
Yesterday I was mucking around making a collage on Word, playing with the 3D capabilities. I'm quite impressed with what I came up with and will attach the file if anyone is interested. It's not completed yet.
So my story will be about the ABSENCE of a grandfather, whilst Bronwen's is very much about his PRESENCE. I was scared stiff about meeting him and now I think I never will.
Wow Melina... so many ideas, so little time! I've just looked at the attachments, your 2 posts and skimmed the 'la-la-la' blog! All very impressive, well-observed and amusing ; ) And I'm in awe of how you've made Word (of all applications!) bend to your will... wait till you check out PhotoPlus - I think you'll have a ball. (You can skip ahead and download the manual from the Workshop forum: PhotoPlus and the free software on-line)

I've just written somewhere else how the story you most need to tell right now has a way of making it's way to the front of your brain... try sitting still for a moment and reflecting over the range of possibilities you've presented. What's most HONEST, most YOU?

Sometimes a couple of simple anecdotes can link quite complex ideas so that you can reveal a story's essence... but just be a bit wary of conjuring up a whole short film! Remember the K.I.S.S acronym? Keep it Simple, Stupid! (I used to hate the lecturer who drummed that into us at film school!!)

Anyway, suffice to say, I have the utmost faith in you finding the right story and telling it beautifully ; )
Sonja (et al) I had a giggle this morning when I was playing taxi driver to my 17 year old daughter. She is rather particular and can be hypercritical at her worst. I thought of making a story from her point of view, entitled "Living With People". In a way, it takes off from Ad'm's Stealth Crip story in that the fact that she is living with her lesbian mother and partner is kind of incidental. She doesn't seem to have any problems with it in practice, though it was a little angsty to predict how it would be...
Liana is extremely sensitive to things like noise and seeing people's food in their mouths. I thought it would be hilarious to make a film about how hard it is to deal with people's activities in such a small house as we are living in. She has complained, for example, about how we close the toilet. We modified our practice and became mindful of that. Bronwen bet that she would complain next about the noise that people make when pulling loo paper off the roll. Bingo! She did complain about that?
and on it goes....
Must be Spring. My mind is jumping around like beans.
I was involved in the workshop previous to this current one and when asked to describe my story I thought I didn't have a story to tell. Although I consider myself queer, and so definitley a misfit, that wasn't my major worry. I had much more difficulty 'coming out' as feeling mentally ill with a head full of fast moving chaos, unable to participate in society without falling apart. Of course I had something to say and a story to tell and being queer was part of the story.
Now I feel as if my digital story has glossed over the top of the thicker, stickier story, but it was a great start and I am starting to make another.
I' d love to hear more about the new story... especially after our conversation about relationships with mums... the one I'm nutting through at the moment is really about coming to terms with my mum's encroaching illness... and the limited time we have left together... but there's so much I can't say for fear of pissing her off! And what's the point really - after all, it's just 'my version' of our relationship... maybe my answer is in more images of the 'thicker, stickier' variety and less words?
I have a little idea of what my story might be about. i was gonna do it about 'coming out'. My coming out was so easy and i wanna show other people that sometimes its not all that bad. Its also a happy time in your life. Love nature so all i have in my head picture wise, is just flowers, dont know what thats got to do with it, but sometimes they can show emotion. Im still a little 'iffy" with what im gonna do but i'll get started real soon!
Hi Amelia... a positive coming out story would be great! Maybe you could play on the theme of 'flowers coming into full bloom'... a bit like that kindergarten game where you pretend to be a tree, growing from a tiny sprout until finally you're a grand old oak with branches stretching to the sky, leaves blowing in the wind... lol! Of course personal photos (even mobile phone snap shots of you and your friends) also go a long way in digital stories ; )
Can't wait to see what you come up with!
hey thankyou... thats a really good idea... its just made my mind go wild...cheers :)
I was an energetic and adventurous child. Always pretending to be a superhero or a cop, riding my BMX bike, climbing the biggest trees I could find, playing 'ball' with Dusty (the Labrador), racing Matchbox cars down a fast track, and fishing with my dad. Happy times. When I spent time with my father i felt like his only son. I felt loved.
But I grew into a person who looked into the mirror and saw a huge fake. A person pretending to be something else just to make other people happy. I became miserable. I blamed my parents for a long time, for not being able to help me work out why I was so deeply unhappy. It turned into depression by the time I was eight, and I dreaded evey single day.
I don't feel that way anymore. Now I just feel immense gratitude for being given parents who love me no matter what and a sister to love an protect and to be protected and loved by.
I was soon to discover that forgiveness was essential to moving on. You forgive yourself, others, and the world, for not being a perfect one. The transgendered life does not have to be a lonely one. Family and friends accept you in time, especially when they see that you are a happier person. I have two families now though. My Trans brothers and sisters have helped me and are essential to my happiness. They have given me a place to belong and given me hope, love and acceptance.
My biological family and my Trans-family have made me who I am, a happy, loved and grateful man.

Hi Sean... this is going to be great! Can't wait to see more photos of you and your various families! Have you checked in with them to see that they're happy to have their faces visible? (easy to blur them if any have angst...)

Also, I wanted to ask... are there specific anecdotes or memories that demonstrate turning points in your self-acceptance or acceptance from friends/family? Sometimes one event can stand in as 'symbolic' for all the other times, and often 'specifics' have more impact than 'generals'...

I love the description of you hanging out with your dad as a kid... think about sounds that might evoke the places and people... and of course images (sunshine through leaves of trees and sounds of creek running etc.)

You might want to check out some of the on-line archives in the interesting links forum...


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