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Girls’ Voices Day 6: Imagination at work

Day six brought Imelda, Anne Maria, Naydelin, Lucrecia, Maria, and Adelina to our “studio” to make the initial editing cuts.  We had two stations set up, one with Jacqueline, a video journalist and editor who works regularly with Univision and PBS, and one with Javier, a photographer and videographer from Antigua, Guatemala who has extensive experience training young people across Central America to share their own stories through digital media. The girls arrived staggered throughout the day, some with their sisters, some with the mothers, so they could all receive personal editing time.

Guided by the technical and creative advice of Jacqueline and Javier, these girls chose which images to include and where to place them over their narration. They dragged individual clips over specific points and cut the narrative to fit certain time frames. They played with volume and sound, some adding music where it fit their theme, others including subtitles to translate from their indigenous languages. For girls who had just giggled in response to every question the first day and who had, for the most part, never used a video camera or editing software before, they were very decisive and intent with their positioning, leading the editing process like young professionals.  We watched as what they had only previously imagined as a story-board took shape on screen, right before our eyes. At the end of the day, some girls asked to bring the video cameras home with them to capture new images or different angles that they had crafted in their heads during the editing process.

Imagination and creativity, however, are nothing new to these girls – these concepts are engrained as a birthright as they learn to weave their fascinatingly complex tejidos and find ways to excel in exceedingly difficult circumstances. What is new is the outlet for this imagination; the form through which creativity can take on a new shape and morph ideas into reality through the dance of filmmaking.   Anna Maria, our 16-year-old aspiring future filmmaker said, “Este es mi tercer video, y yo creo que esta vez yo aprendí cómo utilizar la imaginación. Antes mis manos habían temblando y tenía miedo que mis videos no se salen bien. (This is my third video, and I believe that this time I learned how to use my imagination. Before, my hands were trembling and I was afraid that my videos would not turn out well.)”

This confidence in their ability to weave a story and convey a message in two short minutes has inspired imagination, decision making and agency on a whole new level.  As they watched their videos come together, these girls had to consider why they did each interview, why they took so many angles of the same shot, why the establishing shot, why the close up shot… why they told the story they did. And as they answer those questions for themselves, they can only continue to grow, and their imaginations can only continue to evolve.

Because, as creativity expert Ken Robinson once said, “Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement.”  These videos are clearly just the beginning for these girls.

by Daniel Olitzky, March 1, 2017