Friday, October 1, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WGN Tour: A Photo Blog

On August 25th, 2010, The Cabrini Connections Video and Filmmakers Club was fortunate to get a tour of WGN Television Studios. The tour included conversations with weather reporters Tom Skilling and Mike Hamernik, a look at the newsroom, being able to sit on the stage where the morning news is shot, a tour of the creative services department, and a talk with Cris Allen, Supervising Producer (and a whole lot more).

What a great opportunity!!! Thank you to Juana, and everybody else who took time out of their busy day to talk to us. Below are some pictures from the trip. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Our Summer Music Videos!

And so you have it... the fruit of our labor over the last 8 weeks. Reel Talent Productions is proud to present our finished music videos! These videos were entirely conceptualized, shot and edited by our teenage talents.

This is a music video for the popular song by Lil Mama called Lip Gloss.

Lip Gloss - Music Video from Cabrini Connections on Vimeo.

Yu-Gi-Oh! is a music video based off the opening theme song for the Japanese animation, Air Gear.

Yu-Gi-Oh! Final Battle - Music Video from Cabrini Connections on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Go Bears!

The summer session may be over, but the fun certainly hasn't stopped! Over the course of 8 weeks, our Reel Talent Productions members earned Frames (points) for good attendance, participation and performance. You read last that our overall winner Sean very kindly donated his prize to our third place winner, Reggie. So second place winner Melissa and Reggie were the lucky ones who got to take a trip to watch the Chicago Bears live at the magnificent Soldier Field!

To keep our trip green, we decided to hop on the El and bus there. As we approached the stadium, we witnessed the streets just flooded with hundreds of bears fans decked out in blue, orange and white. It looks like Chicago came out in full force to support our Bears as they took on the Oakland Raiders. We were also awestruck at how big and grand Soldier Field was. Simply amazing!

We got seats really high up, so the view of the thousands of fans in the arena was fantastic. Being close to the goal line was great too! We got to witness Matt Forte score that brilliant touchdown for the bears, after sprinting a whopping 89 yards! Pure stunning action.

We also couldn't resist checking out the view and enjoying the breeze blowing in from Lake Michigan during halftime... and of course, taking a few photos for memories. And to complete our live sports experience, we bought a ton of snacks... nachos, fries, popcorn, peanuts and pop! :)

One of the highlights of the night was when the crowd went crazy doing The Wave! It took a couple of tries for it to get around... but we eventually got it going not 1, not 2, but 6 times around the entire stadium! What fun!

Though it was a bummer that the Bears weren't able to beat the Raiders, we're proud of them for putting up a good fight anyway. There's always next time! And maybe by then, we'd have successfully memorized the Bears fight song! Haha.

Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play clear the way to victory;
Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation with your T-formation.
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, bear down.

By the time we got home, we were tired, but definitely happy. Thank you, Cabrini Connections, for this opportunity!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Video and Filmmakers Club's Summer Session at Cabrini Connections (A Photo Blog)

A fun and educational summer session: Making Music Videos

Editing Air Gear Opening in Final Cut Express

Club Leader Jane Giving Input: We will miss you Jane!

Editing the Lip Gloss Video in Final Cut Express

Creating a DVD Cover in Photoshop

Students Earn Points for Attendance, Behavior and Performance

The Frame Game

Watching a Rough Cut of the Lip Gloss Video

Photos by Yong Shu Ling and Jane Wang

That's a Wrap!

Over the last two weeks, we've wrapped up our first summer session. Last week, we started with a little show and tell. Club Leader Jane brought in her Canon 7D DSLR to give our young filmmakers a first look at the type of camera that a lot of independent filmmakers are using these days. The Canon 7D shoots full HD quality video at various frame rates, at a reasonable price, and can be found on many movie, music video and commercial shoots, so our young filmmakers were getting a look at the latest technology.

Later the students wrapped up the editing of their music videos, and created a DVD cover in Photoshop (see below). Then we said goodbye to Club Leader Jane as she was leaving for the rest of the summer. She will be missed.

We started our final day of the summer session by gathering permission slips for our trip to WGN studios and discussing "The Real World," which included copyrights, and getting a job/internship (making a reel, making a resume, and making business cards).

We then played a game we like to call "Film Terminator," where our young filmmakers get points for guessing film terms based on clues (kind of like the old television game show, $10,000 Pyramid). These points went towards a point system that we started this summer called The Frame Game. Students get points for attendance, good behavior, and performance, with the top two performing students getting a ticket to the Chicago Bears game this weekend.

After Film Terminator, they had pizza and snacks, and the students showcased their music videos (we will post links to their works at a later date). You got the feeling that our filmmakers were really proud of their accomplishments, and they should be. They have come a long way in a short period of time, and personally I am looking forward to seeing how they progress in the future.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Production, Post Production, a Production Company Name and Logo and a Planned Field Trip

At Cabrini Connections Video and Filmmakers Club, we have had a busy July. The young filmmakers shot their first music video. They were up against the clock, only having one session to shoot, and you could tell they all realized that shooting a music video can be quite challenging. See below for more production pictures.

Also, they have begun editing their music videos, and we are excited to see the results.

In addition, they came up with a production company name to put on all of their productions from here on out. They brainstormed and voted on production company names and talked about what they thought goes into making a successful production company. The name they agreed upon was Reel Talent Productions.

Below is the logo for their production company, which they designed and created in Photoshop.

We also found out that we are going on a club field trip at the end of August. We will be taking a tour of the WGN television studios. This is quite an opportunity as WGN has a storied history in both the Chicago area and nationally, and it will be great experience for the young filmmakers to see television production up close.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Everybody loves Music Videos!

On the first day of Film Club for the summer, we (Shuling, Drew, and Jane) revealed to the kids that our big exciting project of the 8-week program is to create an original music video. Why a music video? Because they're AWESOME!

Good music videos can tell a story, can be a spectacle, or even both, but most importantly they enhance the music through visuals. With the producing of a music video, we'll learn about camera movements, set design, directing performers/actors, all the preparation that goes into planning before the shoot (pre-production), editing, and so much more.

This first week we went over some basic film concepts such as framing, storyboarding, director of photography...and the list goes on. Then after going through same basics of film concepts, we watched many cool examples of music videos to get our creative juices flowing. One of the main questions we asked the kids was: How in the world did they do that? The kids thought long and hard and were able to figure out some of the cool effects that were used in the music videos!

Here are some of the music videos we watched and you'll know what we mean:

MuteMath's "Typical"

Sour's "Hibi no Neiro"

After being amazed by the numerous crazy, mind-boggling videos, we took on the difficult task of choosing two songs as our music video inspirations for our two groups. With 14 potential songs, we finally narrowed it down to:

Lil Mama - Lipgloss
Air Gear Opening

If you listen to them, you'll find that they're completely different songs with their own very unique feels (one of them even has Japanese in it!). The three of us are super excited to see what creative ideas the kids come up with.

In the upcoming week, the kids will pitch their ideas for the music videos and we will decide which ideas to pursue. We're off to a great start! We've chosen two songs. We're excited. We're pumped. Now, we need to get prepared!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Video Showcase

The 2009-2010 Video & Filmmakers Club premiered their work at Cabrini Connections' annual Year-End Dinner on Thursday, June 10th, at Cornerstone Center. All four films, embedded below for you to view, were created entirely by students in middle and high school. Scripts, storyboards, audio, video, acting, editing... everything! And, each director introduced his or her piece at the Year-End Dinner. It was a beautiful segment in an overall incredible night. For more about the Year-End Dinner and all of our work at Cabrini Connections, visit Thank You and Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Learning a Craft

This week marked the final meeting of the Video and Filmmakers Club for this school year. I have only been working with these young filmmakers for about a month, but I feel like they are making gains every week, and I have even learned a thing or two myself. They have come a long way considering the program didn't even have a camera or computers to edit on until very recently.

The goal of Cabrini Connections is
that every child who joins the program in 7th or 8th grade is starting a job and career of his or her choice by age 25, and if the youths continue at the pace they are going, I think they are on their way to that goal. Like Club Leader, Michael Alexander says, the students are learning a craft. Who knows, one of these kids might be the next Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) or Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).

This week, we put the finishing touches on projects for the Year End Gala Dinner (I will post more on that later), handed out awards (Most Valuable Team Member, Best Writer, Best Actor, Most Improved Camera Operator, etc), and celebrated a successful year with pizza and treats. Then we watched the four short films that the students put together (with the student's permission, I hope to post links to their work soon), and had fun taking pictures. You can see a couple of the pictures above.

Although, the school year is over, the work doesn't stop. Shu-Ling is taking over as Club Leader (Michael, we will all miss you), we are putting together an exciting curriculum for a program for the summer that will start on June 21st, and we are bringing on Jane, a new volunteer. We are all excited for the summer.

Donations to Cabrini Connections, make programs like this possible. In addition, if anybody is looking for an editor, one of our students is looking for summer work. Let me know, and I will point her in your direction.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Learning By Doing

Last week, I had the opportunity to be a guest at Cabrini Connections' Video and Filmmakers Club. If you are unfamiliar with Cabrini Connections, as I was, it is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a volunteer tutoring/mentoring program for teens in the Cabrini Green neighborhood.

When I arrived, the president and CEO of Cabrini Connections, Dan Bassill was being interviewed on camera by some of the young filmmakers for a video for a Year-End Dinner. Afterwords, Dan gave me a run down on Cabrini Connections and the citywide Tutor/Mentor Connection, and then Shuling, a mentor, introduced me to the filmmakers.

I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I don't have much experience working with youths, but they made me feel right at home. The task for the day was to shoot the first of two short films from a mini-assignment. The film should have no more than 2 characters, consist of 6-12 shots and have an unexpected ending. The writer and director of the short was Reggie. The short was called Lost, and it was about a teen (played by Marquise) who meets a mysterious woman from his past (played by Brittany). The camera operator was Melissa. Audio was done by Kierre and Yahshua, and the narrator was played by Anna.

One of the best ways to learn filmmaking is by actually creating a story, picking up a camera and doing it, and that is what these young filmmakers were doing. Learning by doing is key because it allows you to learn from your mistakes. What they were lacking in experience, they made up for with energy. In the future, the young filmmakers will benefit from being able to go and watch how other sets operate. I know I learn something every time I am on a set.

While the shoot was going on, another filmmaker, Sean was storyboarding his short that will be shot at the next meeting of the Video and Filmmaker's Club. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of it. I also had the opportunity to make a cameo as an extra in the short. I don't get in front of the camera too often, so that was a treat.

On set, it is a challenge for an experienced director to get ideas out of his or her head and executed by the cast and crew, so you can imagine how difficult it can be for a first time director like Reggie. Saying that, Reggie was able to get all of his shots completed and most importantly the cast and crew were having fun. Filmmaking should be fun!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Big plans to close out the year!

With the Year End Gala Dinner only weeks away, we're looking to close out the semester with a big bang! We're currently hard at work on several projects!

The Cabrini Connections Video and Filmmakers Club was proud to provide documentary coverage of the wildly successful Art Show, which took place on April 16th. Armed with our Panasonic TM300 and a mic, we captured the sights, sounds and excitement of the night! Many thanks to all those who agreed to do interviews with us! Melissa is now in the trenches of the edit room, carving out a great piece with all the footage we've collected for the event over the last few weeks.

Just this week, we all had the chance to come up with our own scripts too! This second mini assignment was to develop a story with no more than 2 characters, where someone overcomes a challenge or a conflict. The goal set was to tell it with 6-12 shots and if possible, to also have an unexpected ending. After snack break, we took turns pitching our story ideas to everyone around the table. It was great to hear the wide range of ideas that came through... everyone's certainly got talent! At the end of the night, we all voted for our 2 favorite stories. The 2 winning stories will be shot and edited in the upcoming weeks. How exciting!

Congratulations to Sean Mayfield and Reggie Murphy for winning the vote! They'll both be directing their own short films. I'm sure everyone will be looking forward to pitching in, either as a production crew member, or an actor!

And as if all that wasn't enough, we're looking to start a series of simple webisodes featuring the organizing committee of the Year End Gala Dinner, so get pumped for that! :)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mesmerized and Motivated

Film club recently had a special guest, Bianca Alexander, a local producer in Chicago. Bianca answered questions and talked to the club about how she accomplished her dreams.

Bianca helped the club get prepared, inspired, and motivated to make their best work yet for Cabrini’s spring showcase. Everyone in the club was so deep into the discussion with Bianca that we lost track of time and ended up hanging out for an extra half an hour! With only an hour and a half scheduled for the club a whole thirty minutes extra is a lot of time. I think it’s safe to say Film Club appreciates Bianca’s insight and is welcome back anytime. Check out some photos below.

Find out more about Bianca at

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cabrini Film Club makes a splash

Film makers and members Shaquille Strauther, Melissa Young and Ashaunti Roby wrote, produced, edited and directed this video to promote their upcoming fundraiser this Saturday 2/27/10 from 4pm-7pm. Buy tickets here to come to this fun event and support Cabrini Connections:


Monday, January 18, 2010

On MLK Day Film Club gets a gift

Today Film Club took the day off to show some love for Martin Luther King Day. However last week the club met and we all had a blast editing the mini assignment. We all screened the dailies together, had a good time giggling at the (my) acting, and then broke out into three groups (one group of three and two groups of two) to begin editing.

In the group of three Brittany, Reggie, and Cantrell teamed up with Shuling hanging out to answer any questions. They cruised through the scene and had a solid rough cut well before the club ended. Marquise and Sean were worked together while I helped with questions and the final group of Melissa and Kierre with Michael backing them up took a bit longer to finish. They were both cutting and cutting. I sure they would have kept going strong all night but we ran out of time. Everyone managed to flesh out the whole scene. Check out Sean and Marquise’s rough cut below!

Cabrini Connections Film Club Mini Assignment 1 Rough Cut from Karl Geweniger on Vimeo.

In other Film Club news, I am happy to announce that we will be getting some shiny new equipment! A new camera, sound gear, and tripod just to name a few of the new tools we will have at our fingertips in the coming weeks. We are going to be making some amazing, funny, moving, eye-opening films so stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mini Assignment!

It was the first club meeting of the year. Michael, Karl and I decided to change things up a little with how we were going to conduct our weekly meetings. We're putting our big horror movie on hold for now and working on short mini-assignments each week. We're going to take time to focus on each aspect of filmmaking, such as camera, sound, lighting and editing, so we understand them well.

This time, we kicked things off with Brittany, Melissa and Reggie! The task was to come up with a story, and tell it in 6 shots. Additional requirements? Their 6 shots had to include 1 pan and 1 tilt.

Check out the video to see how we did!