I grew up in a family of storytellers and so have always had a penchant for a good yarn. Over dinner, my father would tell yarns about our family, about his childhood in Viet Nam, about the War; these were heartfelt and true stories. These stories are meaningful to me and also serve as a document of the past that I will not get to experience firsthand. But there was always this problem, in the back of my mind, of how I would remember these stories and share them with others.
This coming April, I will attempt to tackle this problem of documentation. I will be hosting a Digital Storytelling workshop for teens where the teens and I will be sharing, recording and documenting stories in a series of 4-weekly hour-long sessions. The teens will not be limited by what stories they want to share, but I will encourage them to tell the funny, the true and most importantly, the good story. I hope it will be a mixture of family stories and personal experiences. Ideally, the story will involve a strong sense of place or time, so we can pull images from LAPL’s extensive photo archives.
The workshops are modeled after The Memory Box workshops and they involve the use of a handheld scanner and an iPad with iMovie. This technique and method allows for an elegant and simple way to do digital storytelling that can connect people to photo archives, personal histories/stories, and create a value-added document - an edited, interesting and to-the-point slideshow.
In the first session, the teens and I will go through a series of icebreaker exercises, such as telling a story that is inspired by a postcard, listing out what we love and hate about Los Angeles, etc. With this comforting practice, we will then figure out what story we want to tell.
In the second session, the teens and I will practice telling our stories and storyboard the story so we can figure out what images to pull from the archives or what photographs the teens have that they want to be a part of their story.
During the third week and fourth week, the teens and I will begin recording the stories individually. We will also begin scanning the images that will be included with their stories. By the fourth week, the photographs and the stories are combined to make a short 3-minute long story in mp4 format that will be shared on YouTube and The Memory Box app.
In this week by week format, the teens and I will learn how to tell an arresting story and figure out how our stories tie in to Los Angeles, this place we call home. These workshops are made possible with funds from the IDEAS Grant with the hope that this series of workshops will be duplicated in the Branches throughout the region as time passes.
In September 2013, I took a workshop about The Memory Box. This workshop was taught by Sally Lockey, a digital artist from Newcastle, England, as part of an exchange program sponsored by the Department of Cultural Affairs and the British Council. Sally had devised a method that worked with older not tech-savvy individuals and empowering them to tell short tales of their lives using digital storytelling tools. Their short movies were then collected and organized by location and topic to be a part of this app called The Memory Box.
Here’s an example of one of the stories that was produced in the workshop:
If you know of any interested teens, have them come visit us in Teen’Scape or call (213) 228-7290 for more information about how to participate.
[Photo: Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection, Story-telling hour at the All Nations Community House, March 25, 1940]