BLOC: Amber thank you for taking the time to talk to BLOC today! As you know we like to spotlight black collegians who are taking advantage of their own talents to produce and create. We hear you've been involved in a cool project this summer. Tell us more
Amber: I am currently working on an oral history project. We’re helping to tell the story of a predominantly African American neighborhood through film and I just happen to live in the neighborhood. My sister in law, who is also a filmmaker, had the idea and invited me to collaborate with her on the project. She wanted to capture the history of the neighborhood from the original families while they were alive and in the area. I’m fortunate enough to be able to work with professional filmmakers and I along with a few other college students are serving as a college mentors to the high school volunteers. So it has been really cool being apart of a project that combines documenting with mentorship in my neighborhood.
BLOC: Was this your first time working on a documentary?
A: No, but this was the biggest project I have worked on to date. I had a personal project where I filmed a short, documentary on natural hair. I interviewed several black folks assigned female at birth ranging in different ages, the youngest only five. I asked them why they chose to return to their natural state of hair and how long they have been natural I also asked them questions dealing with white beauty standards and how that had an effect on their self esteem in the past. I did the interviews, the editing and questions by myself and I taught myself things along the way. So it has been nice working on the oral history project as I have so many teachers and I also help mentor the people younger than me. I get to be in a crew that isn’t just me.
BLOC: Do you prefer to do film projects that center the black experience?
A: Yes the black experience is one of the most interesting things to live and witness. In this day and age, you can never center blackness enough in film. Because our community is so wildly diverse, there’s so many stories to tell and issues to unpack.
BLOC: Because you started filmmaking at a young age, what advice would you give to someone who wants to learn the skill?
A: Growing up I didn’t have access to a camera nor was I able to attend film camp, so the best way for me to learn skills was watching a lot of movies and studying them. I would notice trends in how scenes were shot, or what music was used to inspire certain emotions, or how lighting was used to get a point across. I always paid attention to these aspects of film and when I finally had access to a camera through college, I already knew what cinematographic styles appealed to me so I could be really creative with the camera early on. But even before I got my hands on a professional camera I made due with cell phone cameras!
BLOC: What networks or mentors or resources have you depended on to learn more about your skill or to learn about film opportunities.
A: Luckily my sister in law is a filmmaker. When I was a teenager she was instrumental in cultivating my love for film and allowing me to play around with her camera. She’s also been great about connecting me with local film opportunities. However, I really take advantage of YouTube and film books to learn editing and shooting skills.
BLOC: We so admire how motivated you are to perfect your craft and how resourceful you are. Such an important trait to have! We wish you the best & thank you for letting us get a glimpse of your #blackexcellence.