The study of filmmaking is an exclusive place. Summer programs cost mightily for the chance to use cameras, learn with other like-minded teens, and make short movies to fill out white space on a resume.
University film programs, though the stakes may be higher, the projects more ambitious, and the people more accomplished, are not that much different. The tuition price surely caters to a similar, certain clientele.
It's in this world of education that Historias de Boston attempts to make room for those outside of cinema's chamber of commerce. In this National Parks of Boston program some number of youth are hired (and paid) to learn filmmaking while engaging (visiting, researching, thinking about) with National Park sites. They begin to consider the relationship between parks and history and communities of color (Latinx and African American, for example). Likewise, they are encouraged to consider their own communities and cultures. By summer's end the young people will have learned enough filmmaking fundamentals to produce a short film of their own.
Sure enough there's a lot of work to be done in the program. Editing, filming, more editing, learning, researching, and so forth. We began our second week together with the uninviting interface of Adobe Premiere Pro. Learning the software program (and covering the overarching subject, Post Production) is not that easy in-person so one must not be surprised that a fully remote experience (which Historias de Boston happens to be this year given the circumstances) is difficult and often diffiult to navigate. Moving so slowly, moving so carefully, moving whilst questioning the bigger picture, one must ask, Is this really worth it? Is learning filmmaking worth it?
The answer became resolutely clear to me while demonstrating an audio recorder, of all things. Some many hours of Post Production had passed slowly, head-slamming-on-desk-like, and finally we moved onto recording voiceovers using a small handheld device. I was running on coals, in need of some sign that the speed at which we were moving and the approach we had taken would get us to where we needed to get to. Explaining an audio recorder is so, so tedious and more so in a virtual meeting room. Buttons, formatting, Hertz, buttons, WAV's, levels, and something-something. One can't take much for granted when teaching anything, anywhere, and this was no different. Go back, press Menu, scroll down, I mean up, scroll up, enter, enter. Oops, I think you were on mute; my bad, I was, too.
But! It was happening. They were recording sound, on their own, each young person spread across the Boston area. I asked them to put on their headphones. Now press Record once more, I said. Seen as just a small rectangle on my laptop screen, a pair of young person eyes broadened and lit up at the voice — their voice! — playing back to their ears. I like to think that this person glimpsed what so few people have been given the chance to experience; that is, that once equipped with tools and some know-how, your voice may come through clearly, loudly, all your own. If I were to sum up Historias de Boston it would be with that look, the look of someone coming to know that their voice can be heard. That I, too, can tell stories.
Agency: National Park Service
Program: Latino Heritage Internship Program (LHIP)
Location: National Parks of Boston