A long time friend of mine is preparing to set up her new business. Ever since I have known her she has always been learning. She is a qualified masseuse and a photographer (and currently in the process of getting her pilot licence) and ever since I can remember, she has been energised by her pursuits outside of her formal 9-5 work. However, the time has come now to go her own way and create her own business doing the things that she loves and sustaining an income out of it. She recently completed a qualification in film making and script writing (as well as recently landed an opportunity to script a documentary) and would like to include these services as part of her new media production business.
(In a weird way, for the last couple of month, I seem to be around people who are writing scripts. Imagine my surprise when another one of my friends, Jayde Lovell recently won over 2000 entries to script the Next MacGuyver series. You can see her pitch here. It seems that my friends are all exploring new endeavours with a wonderful excitement now that their kids have grown; or they’ve had enough of working in a dead end job or being a slave to the wage).
I helped my friend out with website hosts, domain names and setting up a website and as we were talking about her new film making endeavours, I proposed the idea of creating a short film together. This way, she would be able to practice her new skills and I would be able to learn the process of what goes behind film making. In all honesty, I would much rather be doing a film shoot than writing business proposals but that’s another story.
So when we thought about what we could do a film on, I deliberated on different topics. At one stage, I wanted a film on “social learning” but I couldn’t quite get the concept right and besides, it would have meant that we would need to have more support, people or film on location somewhere. Somehow, “social learning” needed to have a ‘story’ around it first and I felt that every idea I had was simply too boring and it came across as a lecture or a presentation. I needed something different.
Then she asked me about Third Place.
I answered the question with how I started Third Place. I talked about how meeting my Personal Learning Network in London back in 2013 made such an impression on me that I had to go back to Melbourne and recreate it. I talked about the concept of Third Places – places where people gather informally to connect, share and learn from each other – away from the home and of their workplace. I talked about the story of how I came to the name of the group by a member of my Twitter network who had sent me a link during a tweet chat about a book of the same name by Ray Oldenburg.
At that moment, when my eyes just lit up and I talked and talked, the realisation set in for both of us that we had our story for our film.
The steps rolled out pretty quickly once we had the story. Once we decided on a date, I quickly sent a Yammer Instant Message to the hosts of the co-working space in Melbourne called NAB Village. Our idea was to have a Third Place gathering (starting with a Breakfast) and then followed by a co-working morning at the NAB Village. My friend was to take footage of us through the whole time. The NAB Village agreed to our request and the venue was booked. I then uploaded the event details into our Meet up group and waited for RSVPs.
The event was subscribed within a couple of days and we had a couple of interested parties who were interstate who wanted to join us through a Skype session. One member also asked to help out in the filming as they have a personal interest in this medium.
The intention is to have my friend film us going about our usual Third Place meet up with scenes of us introducing ourselves, chatting, having breakfast and then setting up our laptops and co-working. Throughout the filming, she will conduct short interviews with people and ask them about what social learning means to them; what value and benefit do they have from the Third Place gathering. Everyone and their business will be credited in the film.
I also approached LearningNow TV, a live streamed internet channel to have our short video aired on one of their programs later this year – and they agreed! (So the final version will be promoted through LearningNow TV).
We talked about the story of Third Place. The questions were quite emotive and I believe that my friend was trying to find an angle and create a story through my experience. The questions related to ‘what problem/struggle was I trying to solve?’ or ‘what challenges did I come across?’ or ‘who were the protagonists?’ or ‘what did I experience through Third Place?’ I think rather than just create a script, she was looking at ways to relay a meaningful experience through my eyes to explain the emotion and the story behind the idea of Third Places.
As I was talking, my responses became less mechanical and formal (like a response you’d give if an interviewer asked you a question) to something that was more passionate and emotive. When I saw her not take any more notes and instead listen to my story, I knew that this was the exact response she was looking for from me.
Checking the Equipment
In another afternoon, she came around my house and showed me all the camera gear she had from digital cameras, point and shoot cameras, Go-Pro, lighting, and her new purchase of a steady cam. Based on the story of Third Place and the need for us having to travel on public transport on the day of the shoot, required some planning from us on what equipment we would need for the filming and how we could carry it all to our destination. The threat of a public transport strike also loomed ominously over the selected day of the shoot. However, we didn’t let this worry us. Instead we tested and tried out different camera gear and selected what equipment we needed to ensure we filmed what we needed in the short time frames we had.
— Helen Blunden (@ActivateLearn) July 22, 2015
On The Day
Today was our ‘shooting day’. We had four people come along Janelle (Education), Katherine (Game Developer & Director of the Friends Institute), Brett (coach) and Meredith (facilitator) who all participated. It was interesting to note that all the people had some kind of connection or start in their working career within film from stunt performer, to choreographer to a script writer and extras on movie sets but the one thing that connected all of them was that they were now in the field of Learning and Development. Participating in this provided an opportunity to network with each other and share their own experiences as well as promote their current work and interests.
A highlight was that we also had Richard Vass from eLearning Brothers (@eLearningBros) join us from Salt Lake City, Utah! I had never met Richard before but he proposed the idea of connect with each other through Skype so that he could meet other Third Placers and also get to know a bit about Melbourne too.
The Short Film Behind the Film (well, sort of…)
Here’s my vlog of some snippets of what we got up to today…