I like to consider myself a humanitarian. I feel fulfilled when I am working on social issues that provide a voice to those who are not within a hegemony; creating teaching material for others that generates open-minded thought; and taking part in volunteer work. As someone who also identifies as a ‘storyteller’, I intend to use stories to educate audiences, generate discussion, and awareness. This semester I have taken part in an off-campus study where I have access to internships providing life experience on operating in the film industry. One of my internships took place at Aubin Pictures, and I have been pleasantly surprised to be able to work with a company that shares my values. It has been a satisfying experience to be enveloped in.
Being involved in Born to Fly’s post-production process has been a really thought-provoking experience. I had not heard of Elizabeth Streb or Pop-Action before working on this project, and even though one may not think that a documentary about a relatively new kind of dance would really fall under the aspects of humanitarianism that appeal to me, in a roundabout way it really does. The film is really clever in featuring people who are artistic iconoclasts: Elizabeth Streb, the film’s subject, has created her own form of dance, is not sentimental, is lesbian-identified, does not body shame her dancers, simply requires them to be in shape to deal with the force of her dance style, and provides movements for her dancers that are not gendered in a traditional sense. Yet Born to Fly is not a movie about her experience as a woman struggling to create a new dance style, having the experience of being LGBT, or working with the London 2012 Olympics. By creating a film where these issues are not the sole subject, but a lens through which they are given the opportunity to be viewed by audiences, we are able to present a world where perspectives that are not normally featured in mainstream media are not immediately questioned and are integrated into every day life.
I have also been involved in one of Aubin’s previous projects What’s On Your Plate?, which is more straightforward in its social awareness ties as it is an investigation led by two 11-year-old girls on the subject of where food comes from, what children are eating, and the politics that surround the subject. I had the pleasure of conducting research comparing where we were in 2009 to now in regards to social awareness and health in the United States. I so appreciate the fact that this is a film that isn’t over once watching it, or even with half a decade having passed since it was first created: it’s still relevant. Aubin Pictures works with students and teachers and not-for-profit organizations all across the United States, providing screenings, merchandise bundles, and activities to help communities learn more about healthy eating, accessing resources, and raising their voices. Just like with Born to Fly, we have iconoclastic characters telling a story. Instead of having a scientist or adult to explain to us as an audience the food process in the United States, we have two youths learning just as we are. Having two young girls as our guides tells us as an audience that they are just as capable of taking the initiative for investigative thought as well. What this choice and the subject matter of the movie do is empower children to teach their own families about having a healthy lifestyle, giving the upcoming generation tools to help shape their future.
The two film projects I worked on are but a small portion of the collection of social awareness movies that have been generated by Aubin Pictures. What is consistent with the message created by Aubin Pictures is that people have the power to take charge and make change; they can do great things if they educate themselves, operate from a place with an open heart, and take action.
In the fall, I’ll be returning for my final year of college with not only a better understanding of the operations behind the creation of independent film, but a revitalized passion and determination that despite the difficulties that come with operating in the film industry, one of which being a woman, it is very possible to create work to take pride in and that can inspire and educate others.