“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
When the words, “What do you have to offer? Who’s ready?” echoed through the auditorium at Mill Valley Middle School and shots of people raising their hands filled the screen, one by one the students lounged on the floor of the gym with their eyes peeled to the screen began spontaneously raising their hands, committing themselves to offer their strengths to the world. Until the last credits faded on the screen the students and teachers alike were held in a breath stirring trance that prompted tears and smiles.
On September 18th, 2015 there were over 6700 of these screenings in classrooms, schools and organizations that participated in Character Day. “Character Day is a global day to unify and galvanize a conversation on the meaning of character,” says Emmy nominated filmmaker, Tiffany Shlain, or simply my mom. I am a proud daughter of Tiffany Shlain and Ken Goldberg, artist, engineer and professor at UC Berkeley. I have watched many scripts being passed across the kitchen table and the friendly flurry of ideas bubble.
I have watched Let It Ripple form as a nonprofit organization; these films are like pebbles in a pond igniting conversation with each ‘ripple’. I got an ‘exclusive’ interview with Tiffany a.k.a. Mom on a lovely Saturday morning: the sun caressing our faces. Tiffany shared her goal for Character Day. “Our goal was to start a conversation and premiere a film in a new way- to provide tools for students, parents and leaders to engage in these new ideas,” she said. The new film premiered last year was The Science of Character, an eight-minute film reminding us to develop our character. It was designed to prompt discussion about growth mindsets, and how you are not caged by your weaknesses.
This Character Day two new films premiered. “Making of a Mensch explores the science of character through ancient Jewish teachings. The Adaptable Mind explores the skills you need in school and in life to flourish in the 21st century,” Tiffany explained.
These films were created using Cloud Filmmaking. “Cloud Filmmaking –“ my mom says, “- is a term we use to describe the collaborative nature when we make the films. We use the cloud of the Internet through Facebook, Twitter, and email to ask questions and have people send us videos answering those questions.”
The amazing thing is that anyone can host their own screening and have a customized version of the film with an organization’s logo. The three films are available for viewing along with a robust resource hub for teachers and students at characterday.org.
The fabulous team behind Character Day includes:
Tiffany Shlain – Director and Writer Sawyer Steele – Producer and Writer Ken Goldberg – Writer Christopher Abreu – Production Manager Elaine Howard- Character Day Outreach Director Hannah Escher – Executive Assistant Raquel Sancinetti – Animator
Though I may be biased, I strongly recommend taking some time out and watching one of the three films. Film sparks goose bumps along our skin and creates a magical surreal environment like the moment in the middle school that day, a day that will never fade from my memory.