Before I ever picked up a camera for #standwithme, I picked up a book on slavery.
As a storyteller, it’s critical that we understand the story before we try to tell it. A 9-year-old girl wanted to fight one of the most abhorrent realities of human life by selling lemonade. And I needed to know more about that reality. In my research, I read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
One scene in particular really struck me. And I find that what I took away from it echos how I’ve long felt about education.
Born into slavery, Douglass was sold to a relatively wealthy couple in Baltimore at age 7. There, the lady of the house, who had never owned enslaved people before, began to teach Douglass to read. Most slaves at that time were illiterate, so the opportunity to learn to read brought Douglass great hope.
But when her husband found out about this late night education, he reacted like many slave-holders did. He became enraged, beat Douglass, and ordered the lessons to stop.
That may seem confusing at first. I know it was to me. Why would some late night reading lessons be so threatening? Douglass’s slaveholder understood the power of education—of education as a means to liberation. Douglass could better himself and his condition through knowledge. The slaveholder both knew and feared this.
Education is a tool to help you better yourself and your skills. When we at Stillmotion publish books, develop apps, and go all over the globe sharing what we know in workshops, people come up to us with the same question all the time: Why? Why do we share our process with others? People seem to find it hard to understand why we share what we’ve learned. And we always think it’s such an odd question.
We believe that education frees people, helping them connect with what they do, be more intentional, and tell stronger stories.
Sometimes that even means they can fall in love again with the craft of filmmaking.
Those who contain their skills, rather than teach those skills, are so often doing so out of fear. A fear that if everyone knows how to properly light an interview, structure a story, and record pristine audio then their films will no longer stand out against others. That their films will be less important. And it comes from a fear of not being good enough.
It’s not the camera, the lens, or the light. It’s your approach, your action, and your vision.