Tuesday, January 17, 2006

TV makes the world go-around, the world go-around . .

Well, it makes things interesting.

I got an email today from a 12 year old who attended one of my summer camp sessions of last year at Cumberland County Community College. During the summer I taught acting techniques, TV Studio Basic Production Techniques and playwrighting to kids between 6-12. I love it. I work with kids whose parents have more money than God; I also work with kids who are concerned "At-Risk." There is satisfaction to be found teaching each group.

Back to the email from the 12 year old whose name is Cal. His mother told me that Cal was always very good at photography and would arrange the photos a certain way as if it were a frame-by-frame movie. Then his parents upgraded to Windows XP and he discovered the magic of the Microsoft Movie Maker. When he left the third class of the two week session, Cal told his mother than he had finally found what he was meant to do. He was very excited. It was the first time in a long time Cal's mother saw him excited about anything regarding his ability to do something. Cal was quite good with the cameras.

Allow me to step back from this profound experience long enough to point out that people who plan summer camp classes for 6 year old in TV Studios tend to not provide enough help for the instructor (that would be me). I had three rooms full of kids to watch - the ones in the classroom working on their props for their project, and working on scripts; then the ones in the studio itself with very expensive professional TV cameras, some hand-helds, boom mikes they enjoy screaming in (usually when the headset is on my ears in the control booth) and grabbing like they want to be rock stars and I am one person watching all this and trying to teach and stop massive destruction of equipment that is literally worth two million dollars at least. Then the kids come into the control booth were there are buttons and gadgets galore and proceed with "what does this do?" and before you can answer they touch the switch. By the end of the second week I put my foot down and demanded more assistance. I was spending too much time chasing kids around the three rooms (they can't be left alone in any of them anyway) and trying to avoid massive destruction. My class was the most popular class of the summer and for that I was pleased. But, believe me, allowing a six year old in a TV Studio and having to rig up a chair high enough for her to sit in to operate the camera is no fun. It makes me nervous.

Cal had great respect for the equipment. He almost shimmered with excitment sitting in the control booth calling the shots to three other students on three cameras shooting the project he wrote and was now directing. The joy on his face was something I'll never forget and at that moment I felt that if I never accomplished another thing in my life, that would be fine with me. As much as I have my own artistic work to do, I place equal importance on brings the arts to the kids, especially those who are drifting along and don't feel they belong. I know that painful feeling all to well. I also remember that it was special teachers that literally saved my psyche.

Cal ended his note about his developing editing skills on the PC and his home movies by saying "You were the best thing that happened to me in a long time."

Oh yes, I definitely cried at that.

A friend of mine emailed me after reading my first blog entry and said he was surprised at how many very personal, painful things that I shared. I told him that I felt isolated because I didn't know anyone who shared my feelings or experiences when I was growing up and it took years for me to realize that I wasn't some loser. If anyone feels isolated and reads that entry and sees they are not alone in some aspects of their private pain, that makes me happy.

Isolation sucks big time. I don't care how big your island is . .

No comments: