My Daughters are Film Makers – Take Two Film Academy and What Makes a Great After School Class

As New York City 10 year-olds my girls have taken a huge range of after school classes.  From sports to cooking, arts to performing, we’ve covered pretty much every venue on the Upper West Side.  I’ve found that some classes are harder to do well than others, cooking for example is often nothing more than baking, often involving Pillsbury Crescent Rolls or assembling of ingredients rather than real cooking.  And I won’t even discuss the disastrous swim class we took where they put kids back in the pool after another kid had thrown up in it. So, I was definitely skeptical of Take Two Film Academy, kid focused film program, since most of our experience has been a “film” class that consists of a non-film teacher making videos on iMovie and the kids merely actors in the teacher’s script or ideas.  But, Take Two Academy seemed a lot more professional and worth a shot.

The first thing that impressed me about Take Two and their fabulous teachers was that they use real professional equipment. The cameras, boom mikes, and Final Cut Pro editing software challenged the students to make higher quality and richer movies.  But what I really loved was how they focused on the process and on collaboration – two things that are essential to good filmmaking.  The kids range in age from 8-15, not an easy group to get to work together, but they did.  They broke down into smaller groups, but each took bigger or smaller roles within each group – from writing, to acting, from directing to editing.  In just 5 days they produced 3 short films – each of them unique, interesting, and completely from their own voices.  And, they were all really proud of each other, the teachers took a total backseat to the students at the final viewing.

Here’s what one of their students (and star KidzVuz Reviewer) has to say about Take Two Film Academy:

And here is sample of one of the films my girls made:

It’s not cheap – but classes of this quality rarely are in Manhattan. I highly recommend checking it out for your budding film maker, actor, writer or performer.

Disclosure: I received a discount on the one-week film class in exchange for a review.  All opinions (and those of the kids) are unbiased and our own!

Wordless Wednesday Literary Flash Back

I love this list of the Top 10 Fiction and Non-Fiction books from the week I was born.  Courtesy of BibliOz.com.  Many of these were on my parents’ bookshelf growing up, which you can read all about in my post The Serendipty of My Family’s Library.

Blogging is Hard.

Really it is.  For the past two weeks my real life has kicked my ass and I’ve watched as day after day my computer has functioned as a giant Twitter stream and email board.  My writing, my real honest to goodness writing has taken a backseat to the whirlwind that swept through the month of September.  It’s not that I haven’t been going to fabulous events or seeing friends or thankfully recording podcasts it’s just that my writing groove is hopelessly out of sync.

For a writer this state of non-writing is like being in a haze.  I know my days are packed with important tasks, meetings and obligations but without real focused writing time I tend to feel untethered.  What I’ve realized is that this new school year requires an entirely new schedule not just for my daughters but for me too.  What I’ve also come to realize is that as I’ve piled on new projects and responsibilities I haven’t given up or delegated anything old so by default it’s my writing that has suffered.  This is not OK.

I know I’m not alone in my stack of posts in draft mode, the events I attended that I still haven’t written about and the running mental conversations babbling through my brain at all times that I’m sure I will write down just as soon as I can.  This is why blogging is hard.  Maybe the hardest kind of writing I’ve ever done.  Once you are established there is an expectation – from loyal readers and subscribers, from PR people who invited you to events and from your own nagging inner voice – that you must produce on a regular basis.  I suppose for people who blog their everyday life or who can shoot out a quick 150 words this is no biggie.  But for me, a girl who constantly edits, rewrites, is never happy with the final product and instantly wants to make another change the moment I hit “publish” the act of blogging is constantly stressful.

When I wrote fiction and screenplays (a lifetime ago) there was a different kind of investment in my writing time.  There was a big picture I could feel my way through with an endpoint in mind.  I loved spending time in whatever world was being created on the page, following characters, crafting dialog – telling a story so far outside myself.  Having that final “THE END” was both mystifying and exhilarating.  In contrast,  a blog has no end.   Every post leads to another.  The characters?  They are real.  And the world?  Well it’s not terribly escapist for me the writer.

So while I love my blog – and I really do – I have realized that every once in while I need a break:  A blog-cation.  As from any hiatus I have to hope I come back recharged and with a new perspective in the blogosphere.   Or maybe I need a Twitter-cation instead – ’cause Twitter?  That’s disgustingly easy.