Being Part of a Creative Community

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Videomaker Penelope Phillips and her late husband David Schneiderman (1938-2003) have specialized in documentaries about indigenous art, emphasizing the values and skills individual artists bring to their work.

Being Part of a Creative Community

Date Posted: 
2012-10-16 00:00

Blog Series:

I came away from the Vision Maker Media Producer Training NAMAC Conference in Minneapolis with a whirlwind of ideas and information and a deeper sense of belonging. Meeting and sharing with the other filmmakers, feeling their excitement about their work, sharing the joy of being at the conference, getting glimpses of their creative process, was both invigorating and life enhancing. As I got the opportunity to talk cameras and editing equipment, budget and legal considerations, challenges of being on the road working, I began to feel a sense of belonging to a dynamic, creative community. This feeling grew as I listened to Vision Maker Media staff member’s presentations and realized their whole-­‐hearted dedication and involvement in the success of each filmmaker’s efforts, as well as their larger goal of promoting Native American programing and education. It was especially helpful to hear Blue Tarpalechee talk about the real life of our programs being in schools. This is something I knew from my previous work, but somehow it really ‘clicked in’ when I heard him say our programs might enjoy a brief life on PBS, but their real life would be in the classroom. I had been contemplating my next project and this piece of information brought it in focus for me. It was also helpful to get tips on social media, on how to engage and promote audience involvement. Jessica Kinser’s offer of assistance with the overall look and promotion of the film was also very welcome news. As a ‘one-­‐man band’, I spend a lot of time editing and working out details alone. Here was a team of knowledgeable people with tangible resources reaching out to help.

A feeling of exhilaration came over me while thinking over the day’s events as I walked across the park to the Walker Museum for the evening get-­‐together. The Walker was a museum I had wanted to visit for many years. I forced myself to go into the crowed upstairs room and was meant with the warmth and kindness that permeated the entire conference, beginning with George’s and Shirley’s warm welcome and the gourmet meal the previous night. The outdoor deck in the light rain, surrounded by the cityscape, added to the euphoria of the evening. Shirley came up and introduced her daughter, who lived nearby. I was able to overcome my shyness to engage in conversations with other filmmakers and conference participants. Then I went downstairs and looked at paintings and sculptures and let the feelings of bliss seep in.

The heightened consciousness of belonging to a community expanded the next day at the NAMAC Conference. I attended several panels with lively audience participation. I sat at tables with media advocates, artists, and educators, and was inspired by their passion for social change. The concept of artists as leaders, of being true to oneself, dealing with fear, ‘staying’ and trying to make a difference, were some of the topics covered. One panel dealt with engaging under-­‐privileged teens in after--school programs, teaching them to develop their voice and, in the process, their self-­‐esteem. Throughout the day I listened to highly motivated participantsshare their insights and experiences in social engagement.

I’ve had a chance to contemplate the Vision Maker Media and NAMAC conference experience in the weeks that followed. I find I have better understanding of the resources available to me and an enriched awareness of belonging to a creative community striving to make a difference. I hope to be able to contribute to this community.

Thank you Vision Maker Media, for this mind-­‐expanding and joyous experience.