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Urban Arts Leadership and the Voice of the City

October 15, 2018

By Renz Balagtas; UAL Cohort ‘18

For the past two years, the Urban Arts Leadership Fellows have created a short documentary film. Their films describe the unique experience of the UAL Fellows while also exploring the social landscape of Baltimore City through the lens of Equity and Inclusion. This year marks the third time that the Fellows will dive into the world of documentary filmmaking and video-journalism. With every new group of Fellows, comes a new story to tell and this year, the Fellows will be documenting the community of Historic Pennsylvania Avenue.

Last Saturday, I lead a workshop with the fellows on what I called the “A-B-C’s and 1-2-3’s of Filmmaking.” The workshop was 6-hours and began with a lecture on the foundations of filmmaking. We started by exploring the 3 basic principles of filmmaking: Storytelling, Planning, and Execution. From those topics, we unpacked the importance and unity of each facet. Filmmaking takes time and effort but I wanted to share how simple of a process it can be. Without skipping a beat, the fellows started planning immediately after the lecture. We weren’t even half-way done with the workshop.

After watching some film examples, the Fellows practiced their interviewing and video production skills. We set up two cameras, and an external microphone. Our goal was to work as a team to record the interview in a way that the audio and video could be synchronized. Watching the Fellows have fun while tackling a new process revealed the true character of the group. It seemed like the Fellows would have practiced interviewing each other all day, but we still had to learn how to edit the footage together!

The Fellows were eager and prepared to jump right in. With their energy and individual leadership qualities, I do not doubt that they will create an amazing film. I am excited for them to have this opportunity to document history through the voices of the community who lived it. It is a unique perspective that film can capture so candidly and eloquently. It’s only a matter of time until the Fellows begin their journey to document such a historic neighborhood and I am proud to say that I was there to help them get started.

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