DocFilm friends and community members,
Visual artist, filmmaker and SFSU alumna Barbara Hammer will be joining State students, faculty, staff and guests for a screening of her 2015 documentary, Welcome to this House on February 10th. Details of this public event can be found below.
On February 11th DocFilm will be recording the Master Class conversation with Barbara Hammer and Professor Cheryl Dunye as part of their ongoing series DocFilm Forum.
DocFilm Forums are ongoing dialogues that investigate the urgent issues of our time by bringing together experts in the field of Documentary, alongside Social Justice Leaders, NGO Directors, Writers and Policy Makers. Forums are held in front of a live audience and taped for broadcast and sharing at later dates.
Our Fall 2016 Forum featured a conversation on the film Peace Officer and can be viewed here.
We are excited to share one of our newest releases with the Chamber Music community and the General Public! Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet follows the world-class musicians on the road in Poland as they play Beethoven and share their talents and legacy with Polish audiences.
This Saturday, Osher Life Long Learning Institute hosts an all day Chamber Music Immersion event featuring master classes, performances, film, and dinner! Schedule is below:
Special Segment (limited access):
3:00 pm – Lecture “Master Class Pieces”: John Prescott
3:45pm – Master Class Observation
5:00 pm – Find Seating
5:30 pm – Concert: Alexander String Quartet
6:15 pm – Film Screening: “ Con Moto: The Alexander String Quartet”
6:45 – Q&A and Reception with the Filmmakers and Alexander String Quartet
7:00 – Dinner
To reserve your complementary spot for the screening of the film, follow the link below. On the right hand side of the site, under tickets, simply select “Film Only” to confirm your seat.
We would greatly appreciate the support of this production and hope to see you there.
Documentary Film Institute Internships
Terms of Internships: Fall 2016, meeting weekly. 120 hours to be completed during semester for 3-units of credit under supervision of DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens.
How to Apply: Email brief letter of interest, summarizing your relevant skills and experience, to DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens at email@example.com
Qualified applicants will be invited for an initial group interview.
Production Intern (1 opening)
Description of Internship: Work on various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries: lighting setup, studio and field shooting, sound recording, archiving, and transcribing. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. May be asked to assist with setup for Poetry Center events, some of which may be off campus. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on various producing projects. Applicants that enjoy fast paced working environments and are willing to take initiative, think on their own are encouraged to apply.
Social Media and Administrative Intern (1 openings)
Description of Internship: Identify and cultivate key social media relationships. Find opportunities for grants and partnerships. Work on various administrative tasks. Research and develop tactics and strategies DocFilm can adopt to build brand awareness and strong partnerships in the Bay Area. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on grant writing and research. Students with a passion for Documentary Film are strongly encouraged to apply. Students must have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong Word, Excel and PowerPoint abilities
Post-Production Intern (2 openings)
This semester we are looking for 1 position to be focused on story editing, and another to focus on motion graphics and animation.
Description of Internship: Post-production work on various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries to include organizing footage, developing rough cuts with feedback from DF admin and various constituents, and motion graphics as needed. Applicants should be proficient with the Premiere Pro CC suite on a Mac OS platform, have experience editing short or feature length documentaries and have strong word processing skills. Highly organized applicants who can manage large amounts of assets and are willing to take initiative and think on their own are encouraged to apply. Applicants should feel comfortable with taking notes/feedback from the Director and Producers, which can then be translated into new cuts for viewing. Applicant may be asked to work occasionally on shoots operating camera and/or sound recorder, and to assist with production of annual screening of new VDC films.
Producer / Research Assistant (1 opening)
Description of Internship: Work directly with DocFilm Director, Soumyaa Behrens on various producing projects. Assistance with production of annual screening of new VDC films. Work can include assistance with producing of various SFSU and Bay Area documentaries: editing, shooting, sound recording, archiving, transcribing as well as distribution, marketing and budgeting. Research focused on current non-fiction journals and conferences, identifying trends, topics, guests, etc. Research focused on development of future projects including but not limited to: Non-fiction Film Conference, TEDX event and the DocFilm Forum. Students with a passion for Documentary Film are strongly encouraged to apply. Students must have strong verbal and written communication skills and strong Word, Excel and PowerPoint abilities.
SFSU Poetry Center – Potential for year long appointment
Production / Post-Production (1 opening: paid position $15/hour)
Videographer / Editor for Poetry Center Live Reading Series & Digital Archive
Under the supervision of DocFilm Director Soumyaa Behrens, the videographer is responsible for attending and recording all scheduled Poetry Readings in the renowned Poetry Center Reading Series. Dates are as follows:
- September 8 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
- September 15 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
- September 24 7:00pm – McRoskey Mattress Co. (off campus)
- September 29 7:00pm – SFSU Fine Arts Gallery
- October 6 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
- October 9 5:30pm – ATA (O.C.)
- October 20 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
- October 27 7:00pm – SFSU Poetry Center
- Nov – Dec Dates TBD
Using digital technology, the videographer will record each reading, add bumpers and credits as well as perform basic editing (color correction and sound mix) and tag files to conform with protocols developed by DocFilm & Academic Technology for ingesting recordings into SFSU’s Digital Information Virtual Archive (DIVA).
- Attend Poetry Center Events for purpose of creating video documentation of performances.
- Export raw video masters (archival file) for each performance.
- Export separate audio (MP3) file from video masters.
- Create MP4 distribution copy with bumpers, credits, light editing.
- Tag and label files in accordance with guidelines developed by DocFilm & Academic Technology.
- Create select short (2 min) videos of “highlights” at each event for Poetry Center communications and promotions.
- Transfer master and completed edited files to DIVA within one week of original recording date.
- Weekly or bi-weekly meetings with DocFilm staff to report and problem solve potential issues encountered in course of completing duties.
Documentaries are famously long-duration projects.
In most cases there is an initial concept, a treatment or story outline, perhaps with bullet points or a list of potential interviewees. There is most likely a stated purpose, a point of view, and a hopeful outcome in mind, but no fixed script – the story evolves over time.
Jan Millsapps, Writer-Director
Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond
Producers and directors find themselves spending months, years, locating and managing resources, gaining (and sometimes losing) access to vital subjects, engaging in considerable research (nobody wants to tell an incomplete or incorrect story), viewing and reviewing recorded material for its on-screen value, and juggling categories of subject matter to determine what belongs in the finished film and what does not.
Our first shoot: preschoolers at Chabot Space and Science Center creating their own solar system and performing as planets, asteroids, comets and the sun. This young woman played Mars.
The Madame Mars project began with a focus on women and Mars with the stated purpose of ensuring girls’ and women’s roles in future space science, space tech and space exploration. Forty-two interviews later – shot in eleven locations, resulting in more than a hundred hours of footage – we find ourselves immersed in editing, a gargantuan task made of many small, tentative steps, quite a few missteps and subsequent corrections, a few giant leaps of faith, and months of hard, hard work.
Documentary filmmakers must often search over time for their story, constructing and assessing many mental, paper and digital edits, identifying themes and connections that eventually solidify the concept into a coherent form, and determining the best way to present the material.
Eventually the footage begins to speak its own story; when that occurs, filmmakers must listen carefully.
The Madame Mars story that has emerged is bigger than women and Mars: it is a voiced commitment to ensure that humanity fully and accurately represents itself as we take our next big step into the universe. At the same time the story is smaller: from the hours of interviews, we believe we have found the voices that best represent our collective quest for futures in space that are representative of all of us here on Earth.
We have been fortunate to meet and talk to many from diverse backgrounds. Did we interview everyone on our initial list? Not by a long shot. But we feel confident that the characters you will see onscreen not only share the individual dream for finding one’s own place in space, but also a commitment to the larger goal of furthering human exploration of Mars – and worlds beyond.
Mars looms large over our story, a continuous presence in our collective consciousness from the earliest days of the space age, now extending far into our real, virtual and imagined off-world futures. Like all of those yearning for a red planet encounter, we are poised to see the fulfillment of our own Mars dream, as we take the final steps of our long, long journey.
We welcome Sreang Hok – better known as “C” – the Madame Mars team (seen here working with DocFilm’s Robert Barbarino). As he completes his thesis film at SF State, C will also guide us toward a final edit.
History is an infinite collection of truths that are known and truths that are hidden, destroyed, forgotten, silenced or ignored. The modern day historian has the complicated task of setting the stage for society to understand the tales of our past that are well recounted as well as those that are missing. And, while we cannot actually reach into the past and change it, we can restructure its meaning and shape by bringing forward true stories that were once left out.
History Professor Trevor Getz has done just that, authoring a graphic novel that tells the true story of Abina Mansah, a slave girl on Africa’s Gold Coast in the 1800’s who took her master to court for enslaving her. Based on the transcripts of her actual trial, Abina and The Important Men, brings to center stage the tale of one young woman’s attempt to not only gain freedom but also justice in a very cruel world.
Abina did not win her case. She wanted her voice to be heard but it was not…until now. Now Abina’s story can be sounded across the world in the form of a book, a film and there is even going to be an app for that. Abina did not realize the power of her actions at the time but her efforts paved the way for the world we have today. Getz remarks, “The Abina project has always been about amplifying the voice of a young, enslaved, African woman who refused to quiet down in the face of systematic denigration. Film allows us to bring her words and strength to a much larger audience.”
Getz’s novel has received much praise and was awarded the James Harvey Robinson prize from the American Historical Association. Now, Getz has teamed with DocFilm and Yudu to breathe new life into this work by creating a sound and motion film of Abina’s story that will anchor a new app for history students across the country. This innovative collaboration hopes to set a new trend in education. By resurrecting Abina’s story via graphic novel, film and in a digital application, students can engage, interact and empathize with the story deeply and meaningfully. This model creates a modern experience infused with essential lessons about personal biography, slavery, colonialism and the enlightenment.
Getz says, “The African great novelist and film-maker Sembene Ousmane said, years ago, that film is the medium of the people. I like to think that making Abina’s story available in film will allow her story and words to reach an audience of people who can sympathize with and understand her experiences and their meaning.”
Created with the time and talent of San Francisco State University students, staff, faculty and support, Abina and The Important Men is also an example of the kind of bold thinking that distinguishes our university from the rest. Slated for completion in early 2016, the Abina App will premiere in classrooms in the Fall of the same year.
written by, Soumyaa Behrens
Trevor R. Getz is Professor of African History at San Francisco State University. He has published in the fields of world history, the history of imperialism and colonialism, and heritage studies. His principal focus is on the slavery and emancipation in nineteenth century West Africa. His most recent book on this topic, Abina and the Important Men, won the James Harvey Robinson prize from the American Historical Association. He edits the Oxford University Press African World Histories series and is currently working on a primer for teaching African History for Duke University Press as well as co-editing a collected work on slavery and emancipation in Ghana with Rebecca Shumway for Bloomsbury Press.
The DocFilm Institute is thrilled to announce our expanded partnership with Cinema Professor Emeritus Jan Millsapps on her upcoming feature documentary, Madame Mars: Women and the Quest for Worlds Beyond. This film emerged amid the growing public enthusiasm about the multiple missions in the works to send humans to Mars. The project intends to inspire and motivate young women who have the talent and skills to work in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The film will also excite, enthrall and educate every audience member about the impact women have already had on space science, specifically the contributions they have made to our knowledge of the red planet.
Watch the Madame Mars trailer here!
Did you know that women were forbidden from looking through the world’s major telescopes until the middle of the twentieth century? This and other eyebrow raising facts are uncovered and explored in this film.
The Madame Mars team has interviewed women working as planetary scientists, astronauts, engineers, space doctors, astrobiologists, Mars climatologists, and a “planetary protector” working to keep Mars safe from Earthly contamination – and vice versa. The team has found young women preparing for careers in space science and the accomplished female scientists who mentor and inspire them. They have followed a diverse, international group of women competing for a one-way ticket to Mars as part of the Mars One project to colonize this new world for humans. The film also dives into the mythical aspects of the planet, exploring science fiction and folklore from a decidedly feminist angle.
One issue that is not mythical in any way is how many young women and girls are discouraged from entering the STEM fields. Several studies including the 2011, “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math” have collected data that demonstrates there is a huge drop off in interest from young women around the middle school age. This can be attributed to the stereotypical gender roles that are obviously and subconsciously placed on females in this age group. As they grow older these ideas persist and young women often feel left out, discriminated against and generally influenced not to take part in these types of careers. Women who do rise up and take on the challenges of a STEM career report major successes but do not describe their paths as easy, or one that was buoyed by their fellow STEM peers. However, a recent study by Cornell University suggests that the tides are changing for women in STEM. Their findings in a 2015 study say that Universities who hire professors in these fields report a new leaning towards the hiring of women in STEM positions.
Now in post-production, Madame Mars is set for completion in 2016. DocFilm has brought on a team of interns to start sorting through the footage that has been collected. A big thank you to these Cinema Grads and Undergrads: Sookyong Kwok, Sam Gershwin and Bryan Petrass. Once complete, the project will also traverse beyond the big screen onto smaller ones in classrooms, nonprofits and individual’s homes with transmedia games, apps and will feature a robust educational curriculum designed to activate girls who have an interest in STEM to thrive in those fields. Stay tuned for more news on this project as it takes its final shape and prepares for take-off.
Jan Millsapps, Ph.D., is a veteran filmmaker and pioneering figure in the new media movement. She has produced digital and interactive cinema on subjects ranging from domestic violence to global terrorism. A versatile and accomplished writer, she has written two space-themed novels and is a featured blogger on the Huffington Post. She is Professor Emeritus of Cinema at San Francisco State University, where she taught courses in digital cinema, interactive cinema, web cinema and short format screenwriting. She earned her B.A. with honors in Creative Arts at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; her M.A. in English at Winthrop University; and her Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of South Carolina. She also holds an academic certificate in cosmology from the University of Central Lancashire in England.
This Spring the DocFilm Institute sent a small crew to Poland for two weeks to make a film about the Alexander String Quartet (ASQ), in residence at San Francisco State University. The team included Hannah Anderson (LCA Communications Photographer/Filmmaker), Warren Haack (Filmmaker & Cinema Facilities Manager) and myself (Associate Director of DocFilm). Going on a trip with someone is always an eye opening experience, and traveling with the ASQ provided many moments to learn about what it means to be a member in a touring ensemble. From Sandy the cellist needing to purchase an airline seat for his cello, to the process of picking the restaurant for the night, it was interesting (to say the least) to watch each of their peculiarities unfold. It became even more interesting to watch how each member of the group had come to accept one another’s quirks for the greater good of musicianship and sharing their music, with one another and others.
From the wonderful people we met, to the beautiful music performances we filmed and recorded, there were endless opportunities to learn about Poland. We witnessed its rich yet complicated history, and met fascinating people that inhabit its spaces. These moments served as inspiration each time we turned on the camera and sound recorder. Following ASQ throughout their tour, we stopped in Krakow, Rzsesow, Gdansk and Warsaw, with each city being host to the Beethoven Music Festival. These stops allowed us to cross through large parts of Poland. Each city offered its own unique texture and these landscapes play a role in the film we are creating.
We had many planning meetings with ASQ about what a two-week tour of this level normally entails. During these meetings, we got a faint glimpse into the dynamic life of a string quartet musician, and more importantly, how these four individuals interact with one another under these circumstances. This was a guiding question for us as we considered how to approach filming each day. What does it really mean to be a part of a string quartet?
While on tour with ASQ, the answer to this question became more layered and complex, and great substance for the film. Beginning with their relationships, it was an experience in itself to watch (and film) how they navigated around one another while on tour. There is a shorthand form of communication between the members, much like that between close siblings. It was obvious this shorthand was integral to accomplish what they do with one another as musicians and performers.
This visceral ability to communicate their ideas and music seems to come from their many years together and lends itself to their roles as educators. While on tour, ASQ conducted master classes at conservatories in Krakow and Gdansk. These classes illustrated how passionate they are about their music and the history from which it comes. Each member of the quartet has their own unique way of passing on lessons to young musicians but, at the same time, they seem to be speaking together with a unified voice.
Maybe that is the crux of what it takes to be a successful quartet: strong individuals that can come together and blend their voices to make beautiful music together. We plan to unlock the mystery of these highly accomplished musicians through this film. Currently in post-production, stay tuned for info on a screening this Fall. Many thanks to the generous members of the ASQ, Zak, Fred, Paul and Sandy, for letting us into their world.
Finding a Safe Place
The Documentary Film Institute and Veteran Documentary Corps are excited to announce the limited release of filmmaker Ingrid Schulz’s new film, Finding a Safe Place. Ingrid was generous enough to share a few words on her new documentary:
“I am pleased to announce that the Veteran Documentary Corps is distributing the film “Finding A Safe Place,,” a film that relays the experiences of several veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and promotes an awareness of the healing power of animal-assisted therapy.
The film focuses on three veterans, Tina, Dennis and Aaron: Tina suffered from a military sexual assault and experienced panic attacks, nightmares, and the fear of being followed. Dennis experienced hearing and balance loss resulting from a puzzling incident occurring during the Vietnam War. Aaron had difficulty adjusting to civilian life after his deployment in Kuwait.
Although interventions of psychotherapy and medicine can improve symptoms, in the long run, an alternate intervention – the adoption of service dogs, appears to provide the most sustained relief.”