“You are welcome here”

On Thursday, the Lights, Camera, Learn team finished the first of our six summer programs. Exhausted but inspired, our team spent the weekend backing up footage and behind-the-scenes photographs, and exploring the cities of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. We recapped the week on our rides across the region.

Our team of nine, supported by local friends and educators, found a way to navigate the triple-threat challenge of filmmaking, working with kids, and overcoming a language barrier. This session will be the biggest of our entire summer: a program of over 60 kids from ages 8 to 12, across all levels of English proficiency. And yet despite the challenges, we wrote, directed, and produced six different films — in five days.

 Kids and educators alike shared laughs, cries, setbacks, and celebrations, and by the end of the session, had grown in ways they couldn’t have foreseen. For some of our kids, this was their first chance to speak with native English speakers. For many more, it was their first chance to get in front of a camera and have their ideas explored. For both our team of interns and our groups of kids, it was a week of discovery. 

We watched as the kids who stayed shy and quiet on Day 1 broke out of their shell and shined on camera by Day 5. The kids who already had a handle on the language played the role of Assistant Director and sound Operator, aiding our directors and educators in communicating with their classmates, dropping the slate, and even holding the boom pole while our directors of photography captured the action.

As we looked through the footage from our first program, our team was reminded of our own childhoods: when it was that we all found our passion for film. For most of us it was when we were 11 — the same age of the kids we are now working with. If we thought we were cool when we were 11, then these kids are the coolest on the planet. Not only are these kids facing their fears, working with foreigners, and sharing their creativity, they are doing all of this in a new language.

On Sunday we get started on our second five-day session with an entirely new group of bright kids. We’ll bring four more scripts to life, and on May 21st, we host the first Red Carpet Event of the summer.

Every day we are learning new things: what life is like here, the differences between our many cultures, but also what we have in common. Perhaps the most common realization that our team has had is that in all the places we’ve traveled around the world (and ours is a well-traveled group), we’ve never met a more welcoming culture. So many people, from our sponsors, to our new friends, to the random people we meet on the street, have said to us and on more than one occasion, “You are welcome here.”

Our friends and hosts demonstrate it to us every day: they bring us food while we are working, they invite us to into their homes to meet their families, they teach us their dances, language, and customs. And they expect no thanks, only that we share with them these experiences.

As our Nazareth Program hits the halfway point, we’re looking forward to what adventures and realizations we’re sure to have in the coming weeks.

First Impressions

Traveling to a new place is exhilarating–and exhausting. Weeks of planning, days of packing, six to sixteen hours in flight finally land you in your first moments on foreign soil. No true traveler expects sunshine and paradise as soon as they step foot out of the plane. Jet lag, language barriers, and passport control hit you before baggage claim. But for Lights Camera, Learn, it’s all part of the experience.

This week, the Lights, Camera, Learn team assembled in Nazareth to begin our first program of the summer. Seven interns from various places around the world arrived curious and excited about the adventures and challenges ahead, and in only a matter of hours, connected with one another over a shared passion for film and culture.

Almost as soon as our team arrived, we began to explore: from the small village where we are staying in Ar’ara to the region of Galilee in the north; across to the ancient city of Acre; to Baqa Al-Gharbiyye and then up to the storied city of Nazareth; to the coastal destinations of Caesarea and Haifa.

Three days of adventure quickly bound our team to one another, and to our new local friends who guided us through our first days in their country. To be in such group; to hear the ideas that have come about between our team of interns; to get a better understanding of this country’s politics, history, food, music, and lifestyle from its people; is nothing short of inspiring.

All of us have been witness to first impressions this past week: of one another, of Israel, of its diverse people and unique cultures. Our most important first impressions will come when we meet the first batch of kids we’ll be working with for the next two weeks. By then, our team will be well-rested and ready to connect with the people of this country on everything from film to music to dance.

In only a couple of days, it has become apparent that neither a language barrier nor jet lag will stop this team from giving this program their all, and finding the fulfillment in the unfamiliar. The coming weeks are all but guaranteed to leave every one of us with an impression that lasts.

Sharjah 2017

With 2017 coming to an end, Lights, Camera, Learn, has taken on yet another project. This time, it’s in Sharjah!  

In partnership with Emirates Red Crescent, Lights, Camera, Learn has organized a weeklong program immersing 33 girls (ages 10-14) who had fled war-torn Syria,  in filmmaking activities that aim to both empower and educate them. The goal by the end of the week is to have had the girls write, create, and act out movies or music videos of their own making, having picked up the skillsets necessary to hone in their English speaking and writing skills along the way.  

Day 1

Upon their arrival, the girls played a quick game of Zig Zag Boing to warm them up for the rest of the day. The game - which focuses on the verbal and visual communication between its players -also helped break the ice between the kids and the Lights, Camera, Learn team members. We then had a round of introductions, followed by a dance off that ensured that everyone was both well acquainted and in high spirits!  

Then, the real work began. In order to discern the girls’ linguistic abilities, we split them into four groups, and had them take part in different activities, rotating every 20 minutes between each station.  The activities - which ranged from identifying and acting out certain emotions; carry out various improve skits; playing the “Walk Like…” game; and learning/singing along to the lyrics of a song – helped us identify each girl’s strengths in order to later amplify them in the filmmaking process. The last activity of the day entailed a brainstorming session, during which each group came up with one idea for a short skit they were then to write a script for. The purpose behind this activity was to prepare them for the work of Day 2, which would mainly revolve around starting the creative process of writing the scripts of the movies they wanted to film for the rest of the week.  

Day 2  

We started off the second day with a quick round of Zig Zag Boing. Now that they were a little more familiar with the technicalities and the over-all gist of the game, the girls gave it their all. It was the perfect warm up for what would later turn out to be quite an intensive day.  

We started off the day’s activities by dividing the girls once again into four groups. Stations were set up with activities meant to kick-start the process of brainstorming what movies they wanted to create over the course of the week. Each group sat down with a team member, browsing through various movies and film ideas posted online. 

The girls explored the different kinds of movies that have gained momentum and traction as of late, such as YouTube make up tutorials, short films, parodies, song covers, and the like.  They then voiced out their opinions in a discussion session that followed, highlighting what they liked and what they didn't.  Each group also spent some time learning the different movie genres they could choose from, after which each group sat down with its director, and they agreed on a single movie idea.  

We then started scriptwriting.  

Day 3

After having spent two days brainstorming, planning, and writing, the girls were ready to bring their movies to life.  Each group sat down with two LCL team members to help them rehearse and memorize their lines. This proved to be challenging at first. Given the fact that this week-long program served as the first time most of these girls had ever been exposed to English at this caliber and to this degree, the girls oftentimes struggled to pronounce and enunciate some of the vocabulary coherently.   This process took up the entirety of the third day, but was perhaps the most educational in terms of grammatical and phonetic exposure to the English language.  It was a productive – albeit lengthy – process to say the least.  

Day 4 & 5

We began filming two of the four movies on the fourth day. The other two groups – which were set to start filming on the fifth day - spent their time rehearsing their lines and scenes. They also worked on writing and coloring the numbers they were to submit to the online Girls Count campaign.  

Each of the girls was also asked to sit down with an LCL team member in order to give feedback about the program – the challenges they faced, what they enjoyed, and any advice they had for any future LCL projects. The groups swapped roles the next day. By the end of the fifth day, production was officially over!   

The red carpet event!

Our Red Carpet Event is a unique opportunity whereby our stars get to celebrate their short films, the result of their hard work, and share happy moments of a unique educational experience with their teachers, family, and friends.

At the event, children get to be treated as ‘Hollywood’ stars. They dress glamorously. They walk on the red carpet; they go on stage and receive achievement certificates and performing trophies. They also participate in Q/A sessions whereby parents and friends ask questions relevant to their participation in the short films. 

The LCL RCE is a major celebration of an educational achievement