Sunday, November 10, 2013

Teen Community of Filmmakers

Nikita (L) & sister Monica (R)
Over the past few years I've taught a Story Symposium for a group of teens, and later helped them produce a short movie. One of my students is Nikita Mungarwadi, of whom I've written before about. The picture at right I took at her older sister's high school graduation dinner. Nikita's on the left, in dresses they purchased on a recent trip to their parent's cities in Southern India.

She asked my opinion of several of her college application essays. The one below was priceless and thought it applied to stories of all kinds. It tells one.

The application prompt is followed by her essay:

Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. Approximately 250 words) Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.

We are a community of filmmaking teens.  A community of all Caucasians and one Indian.  A community of devout Catholics and one devout Hindu. I am the latter, yet I belong with the former. 
When I attended my first Story Symposium workshop freshman year, I was mildly surprised to find that I would be the brown sesame seed among the pot of white rice.  I was already accustomed to be the minority.  In school, I was one among the two Indians in my grade; in ballet I was the one Indian. 

I wasn’t expecting hostility, but I braced myself for the discreetness that was sure to exist.  Strangely… I got neither.  The rest of the teens completely ignored the fact that my external features were incompatible with theirs, and adopted me within their circle.

Soon, we became a cult, enthusiastically learning the craft of a perfect screenplay.  We contributed recommendations on others’ screenplay ideas while absorbing advice for our own. 

We all shared a mutual desire to become part of the channel through which we could manipulate human emotions, sending the audience into a sea of startling tears or a death of interminable laughter.  We realized that films were the illusion meant to distract people’s attention from the real world, yet offered universal principles that can be applied to reality.  The irony of filmmaking and the longing to be a part of it was what brought us together.

Even though our complexions clashed and our religious devotions disagreed, they considered me to be synonymous with themselves­­–a united community of teens indulged in fascination for the art of storytelling.