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Watch-Engage-Produce: bridging digital film and new Internet platforms

Watch-Engage-Produce: bridging digital film and new Internet platforms

New Orleans Film Society

Program Summary

As part of our mission to “engage, educate and inspire through the art of film,” the New Orleans Film Society seeks to launch a series of digital learning labs in conjunction with the existing New Orleans International Children’s Film Festival, August 9-10th 2013. These workshops will be set up as satellite pop-up events at public libraries and summer camps across New Orleans. Our labs will each serve 12-24 students and will be targeted towards underserved youth ages 12-18.

The goals of Project:Connect speak to a need felt nationwide, to give our youth the critical tools and experiences that will help them to engage constructively and safely with the changing technological landscape. This problem has a unique story in New Orleans, where access to the Internet is remarkably low. Orleans Parish has a 40-60 percent broadband subscription rate, compared to most metropolitan counties in the nation, which average in the 60-80 percent (source:NOLA Lens).

Minimal Internet access leads to a deep lack of media literacy, reinforced by our struggling schools that have to focus on other basic skills. As a result, students need an out-of-school opportunity to engage constructively with visual media and the Internet. As a film society, we feel we can fill this educational gap by teaching visual storytelling and media literacy.

For Project:Connect, we will conduct short, comprehensive sessions that integrate digital media consumption, analysis, and production through mentorship. Our labs will include an interactive lesson on the history of Internet and film that leads to hands-on video production through Zeega.com, a new Internet platform developed by storytelling innovators at the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab. This platform will allow students to edit together short animated gifs, sound, video and text to share a meaningful visual story with New Orleans audiences and the online community at large.


With film and visual storytelling the heart of our Project:Connect programming, the New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) will lead participants through a lab in which they can WATCH-ENGAGE-PRODUCE, and ultimately increase their own media literacy and web knowledge. Our 2-3 hour workshop curriculum utilizes the newly launched website Zeega.com as the platform through which we will lead students through our lesson plan.

Part I WATCH: History of Film on the Internet

Our program will begin with a 30-45 minute presentation on the history of web communication through film and video. Our staff will work to compile clips in advance, forming a curriculum around the how formats that support Internet video have evolved. We will introduce the concepts of Internet art, educational talks, and web series. Students will be able to interact with the presentation content using iPads and tablets.

Through staff-guided analysis, students will develop critical tools that will allow them to examine and question media gaining a deeper understanding of their daily relationship to visual media.

This component will end with an introduction to new modes of visual communication on the Internet, specifically Zeega.

Part II ENGAGE: Q+A with the mentors

To promote participatory culture, we will present the Zeega co-founders as our program mentors and allow the students to ask them questions. NOFS educational events seek to make the process of filmmaking familiar and transparent to students — and in this way, help them to recognize the way in which visual stories are told. In this lesson, we will discuss what they have seen on the Internet and foster a conversation about how these viewing experiences have impacted the way in which they tell their own stories and see themselves in the world. With the Zeega co-founders, we hope to foster a dialogue on technology, creativity, and inspiration that is relevant to the students’ experience. As filmmakers and website creators, Oehler and Shapin have a strong grasp of how film and the Internet intersect, as well as the future of these mediums.

Part III PRODUCE: Zeega video content
To foster new media literacies, our program will give youth the space to create their own web content on Zeega.com. “Zeegas are a new form of interactive media, enabling anyone to easily combine animated GIFs, audio, images, text and video from across the web” (http://blog.zeega.com/about). Working one-on-one with Zeega mentors and festival professionals, each participant will create his/her own piece, simultaneously reflecting their individuality and uniting them in the creative process and the online community. We will empower the youth by giving them the tools they need to tell their own stories using media platforms on the web and they will leave with a tangible product of their own.

The final element of the workshop will be to display all of the Zeega pieces that the youth create. They will be included as part of Cinema Reset, the New Orleans Film Festival’s experimental film exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Center (October 10-17).

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