Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Film That Started My Career

I've been on Twitter a lot lately and folks like @dailytwitter and @anandnataraj would ask me about the film I made when I was 16. So I think it's due that I wrote a post about it. My journey to this film was started by Rona, the then Assistant Principal of Manhattan International High (MIHS) School. We had a great school, it was part of the alternative school system in NYC. And you might've guessed, we call our teachers by their first names.

MIHS was established a year before I was in ninth grade, housed in the old Julia Richmond school. It was meant for kids who were in the US for less than four years, so it's a totally ESL (English as a Second Language) school. Being in that building itself was pretty school because there were small schools inside that huge building.

Being "alternative" meant that there were less stress on tests and more emphasis on other ways of learning. After I learned about something we had the choice of writing a research paper about the subject, or in my case, I wrote short stories. When we learned Shakespeare, we'd write essays about it, as well as perform to the class. I always borrowed the school camera for my class. I joined the theater club as well.

So when the call for the "Intensive Filmmaking Workshop" came, my name was listed. I was asked if I'd be interested to apply. Spend the summer learning how to make a film? Why not! I heard there were about 500 applicants, where only 5 were selected. We had to write an essay, then we were shortlisted, interviewed, and selected. Two students were selected from my school - Katia and myself. The other students came from other alternative high school like Educational Video Center (a vocational high school), High School for Performing Arts, and High School for Environmental Studies. I also did a morning program called "Word Up" which was headed by the superintendent's office. That was a great program too there were classes for the arts like acting, singing, visual arts etc.

The workshop taught us everything about how to make a film from scratch. We discussed film theory, history, and anything that had to do with producing our little short student film. One requirement of the program was that we had to make a film on Paul Robeson. We were like, who? We researched about him in addition to researching and learning about film. Needless to say, it was the best summers I had in New York. Sam, one of the students who produced the film was gracious enough to transfer the film online so here it is:

After I produced the film, I joined Globalvision, Inc. I'm using this space to add collections of my work. You can read my letter to the Village Voice here published that same year. It was a big deal back then because this is my first "published" piece of writing. ^_^