Feminist Film Camp

A few weeks ago I sat down with my college counselor for about the fourth time and something weird happened. She looked me in the eye, and without hesitation or a shadow of doubt, said that she had a good idea about what she wanted me to do in college. As in major and minor. As in future. As in career. As in something nobody had ever had the want, need, or inclination to tell me. But she did. She and her decades (but she absolutley doesn’t look it) of experience in the service of young people and more specifically their academic preparedness for college. I trust her. And that’s why what she said blew my mind, because I believed her. Whereas before I had never believed that someone would sit me down and tell me what to do with my life. Not that it matters, but I’ll tell you because it’s cool.


“Film… with an undergrad in business just to be safe”


Film. Well that part wasn’t a shock, but at the same time it was. I love it, and the people I know and love know that I love it. But even many of them wouldn’t volunteer the idea to me, for reasons I can’t really guess because it’s my blind dream we’re talking about. But I can get a feel for people, and what they usually tell me without words is “Oof that’s gonna be rough” or “Aw cute, until she decides she doesn’t want to be poor”. But again, my blind dream. And my counselor’s more than just my counselor, she’s my guru. (Yes, that good) And so she knows that when a teenager has fostered a love for something, by paying attention in that class or taught themselves a skill and has just simply made that time to love that time with that thing, whatever it may be, it’s important to not just to encourage it but to support it. So shoutout to my college counselor. And shoutout again when I’m receiving that Oscar.

It’s taken me months to get the energy to post again. It’s draining, this writing thing. Thoughts to fingertips to keys. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s a tough hobby to keep consistent with. It can only really be done when it’s from your being, because math says you can only give what you have and much as I hate to admit it, math is usually right. Math won’t allow me to write about things I haven’t fostered a care for, because the words won’t be there. So giving more of what I have is probably what I’m going to work on, and finding what those things are too. It’s easier with pictures. Anyone with my snapchat or following my instagram could tell you that. Sydneyjoto is kind of a mess there.

WHICH leads me to my next trick topic.

Film camp. More specifically, Feminist Film Camp. It has a better and more official name, which I’m not sure if I can share so we’ll just call it the former. I found out about it several weeks too late and then there was nothing short of a miracle; somehow they let me in. They turned out to be fabulous people who were incredibly talented at each of their varying jobs within the film industry. We met and skyped with movie directors, editors, PR people and went through what must be the process of making a movie because we did. We made a movie and aired it at a real premiere in a theatre. It’s two weeks later and I’m still feeling butterflies from that one. In teams of five, we wrote, directed, acted, edited, and finally produced a piece all while learning from the professionals about ways to do the best visual, audio, and story work possible. Oh and storyboarding. Almost forgot that.

Here are some notes from lunchtime speakers I took in my nerdy film journal 

• It takes both brains & luck
• Have people back you up with a common goal, but never give up creative control, even if that means you have to turn down an offer from Disney. (They have a thing about that)
• The documentarian women making “Code” always just wanted to make a film.
• On choosing a topic for a documentary, “It has to be something really important and topical.”
• Show before you tell, or just show and hope that tells enough.
• Honestly, you have no idea how an audience will take a movie. You’re just feeding your home made food to the kids and hope they like it.
• A director is the one who carries the production with his or her drive alone. The director needs to be the most passionate, the story is their baby and they want to see it succeed.
• You need a team that fills the many gaps of what you can’t do, and in the end work to create something a thousand times better than what you could’ve come up with. Notice how as movies have improved over time, the credits roll longer and longer?
• Editors push the scene layer upon layer, they have artistic license and mad organization skills
• Both creative and technical people are necessary to making movies. You just have to learn how to speak the two different languages.
• Actresses with cool roles really are the role models for young girls. Thanks to CSI, the number of women entering college since 2000 under Crime Investigation or Criminal Justice has dramatically increased
• As women, we tend to doubt ourselves. More women will walk into a job interview thinking that they’re hardly qualified, whereas men typically think “it’s all good I got this”. Know that you have got this as much as the boys do.
• Code, the language of computer code will be more and more invaluable to you in the future. Learn it, and you will almost be guaranteed to use it someday and get paid for it.
• Light is everything. In animation it makes the world seem like a place you can actually go to and visit. It converts kids to Disneyisms and in live-action can make adults cry and laugh or scream sometimes more effectively than just acting.
• A documentary is a hell of a lot of work. But so is a live-action film. And animation. All need smart and creative people and all are necessary to help tell the stories that need to be told.
• When trying to sell your movie, smile. Give gifts. I have seen grown men in suits almost get in a fist fight over a ballpoint pen that said “Sundance”.  Also, the best parties don’t serve caviar they serve hot dogs. People are hungry!

And lastly, favorite quotes:

“Smile. Love the process, and if you don’t, go be a dental hygienist.”


“If you love it, you’ll find a way to do it.”

let me repeat that for the haters

If you love it, you’ll find a way to do it.


You’re darn straight.

Something else I really love, is finding flaws in society and coming up with my own dumb solutions to fixing them. So I found a way to do that at this camp, with my production team. My problem, my solution. Please pay no attention to the lead actress she’s no Jlaw, but I think the message is something to think about. If you know a teenager or anyone with a picture-posting problem, or anyone really, please feel free to share.

You can only give what you have right? Subtraction and addition? Well here’s a story I wrote about a girl with an Instagram problem, and how I think kids should start viewing the way they view the world, which is not on a phone screen.


Thank you dear reader for doing what you do best here, and I wish you all a wonderful day/evening/morning/birthday/holiday/drive/whatever else awaits you.

All the best,




ymca camp training 2013

JoTo got a job as a Y Camp Counselor baybeeee!!!

It took a couple hundred small miracles… but she did it!

And this weekend during many hours of camp training in all things crafty and inspiring she realized that she couldn’t have gotten any luckier.

Meet the family… the whole chanting screaming cheering stomping lot of ’em :) <3

ymca camp training 2013 IMG_6858photo


Spring Break Begins

The bell rang yesterday and the classes erupted into the halls like water bursting from a crumbling dam. It was hot outside and people stopped in crowds to hum and bubble about their vacation plans. We walked to Starbucks to get some sugary drinks and celebrate. We sat, sipped, and talked about world politics and tanning.

Iced Passion Fruit Tea… decaf :) #tumblrstatusss

Driving is Draining

The creative writing section of my brain has been really dry for a few weeks now.

I blame not School, but driving. I’m driving now (with the accompaniment of an adult) but doing this mundane and sometimes frustrating task has sucked my creative teen juices dry, and has left me feeling more like a boring adult than ever. Yup, I think I skipped the normal teen reaction to driving a vehicle on the open road:

excited boy tumblr redhead drivers license yeahhh

……and am instead this:

bored in the car gif

G’day fellow drivers and creative people!

(Question my theory in the comment box below)

Waterslides and Ends

You’re standing at the top of a water slide looking into its dark open mouth. There is water rushing about your ankles, urging you to go on and sit, but you’re hesitating. You’re look at the rust coating the sides and bottom of the slide, and the wooden beams, which are supposed to support the slide, but are crooked and cracked in many places. There is no one behind you in line and the lifeguard is off duty. Do you go or do you not go? Your whim tells you to go, so you sit, letting the water carry you. You’re rushed into pitch-blackness, swerving left and right, sometimes so sharply it hurts. Then there are loops and drops that you scream through, wondering despairingly when it will all end. Something hits you in the head and you think you hear bats screeching. Something else makes the tunnel shudder and you are thrown from side-to-side with it. This goes on for what feels like hours and just when you think this is surely the tunnel to hell you see a light. It is far away and you start swatting at the water trying to move faster towards the end of this awful ride. Suddenly, the ebony air recedes and you are thrust headfirst into a churning mass of water and you sink to the bottom of a pool. You open your eyes, breath held, and you see that you are surrounded in light. You push up off the floor, break through the water, and gasp. You have landed yourself into a secret part of the water park, and it’s equivalent to paradise.


The big question. Do the Ends justify the Means?

via Statflickr



Panning for Gold Like Fools.

The American River.

Awesome right?

 Oh yeah.

And chock-full of gold.

You know, the sparkly… sought-out kind,

by 49ers, hilbillies, and a couple of elated history geeks with their kids?




A good omen perhaps?




Kiddish elation. Let’s call it sugar or the fact that it’s 10:00 in the morning.




Lollygagin’ and chatterboxin’ about,

“How much gold we gon’ get!”






Where fools are made:

You hear “Gold Panning” and the general audience thinks of a murky river rushing along

with a shriveled up old timer hunched over a tin pan filled with rocks and mud on it’s bank,

his long grey beard trailing in the current.

Our envisioning of this trip was more like Gold Rush on Discovery Channel.

And then we got there. And we saw why people are fools for Gold Panning.

It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean.

Our eyes bulged and gold nuggets appeared where our pupils had been.

Whaaaat? It’s all just PEBBLES?

Little guy on the top right-

“Augh! Not stupid rocks again!”



Mini Montage:

A flake perhaps?!




Aiden’s Spillage:

And I quote my little cousin Aiden,

“There’s nothin to do here…  so I’m gonna dig a hole.”

Welp. That’s what we get for cheating Aiden. Sorry bud.




Went for a walk. Loved this rustic home that some lucky gold-lover lives in.

That lucky gold-lover probably runs the park office, and has dressed it up pretty cute too!

“Well hey there Steve!”

Heh heh you get it? He’s a 49er, and Steve Young was a… oh NEVERMIND.




Lunch, candy and running break.

 then some jumping still-shots. Heck yes we’re epic!




 Found this on probably the “most panned spot on the American River”,

It’s not just Californians who love their gold… or their dogs.



We headed down the stream a bit, this time with fishing poles and barbless hooks.

That lasted for about… ten minutes. I started eyeing this rock-island and thought

myself crafty enough to contrapt my across with a rock bridge. This was all for the sake of my dinky

vans and ill-protected feet from the snow-cold water. After twenty minutes of careful contemplation, I found my way across

and did a little happy dance when I got there. I then look up to hear this splashing…

Sigh. Boots are lovely.



Science Camp Rock Paint:

Rub two wet river rocks together until you get a murky, watery paste.

Swipe across limbs and/or face and then do a rain dance.

On second thought, have someone else do your face… especially if you’re eight years old.





And here we say adieu, to you gorgeous American. Let your synthetic glitter dazzle(v) future tourists

and give them an oh so temporary gasp of hope. A hope for fortune. The same hope the 49ers felt those hundred sixty or so years ago,

but that was actually genuine. Genuine gold nuggets that is. Those pigs.

A clearly disappointed wave, returned by the camera-bearer. But… we’re they’re ride home.

And a clearly sorrowful little boy, no gold= no joy.

It’s okay little cutie, your sad attempt at a smile has shown me that it doesn’t matter how much of a reward we found,

but the stories, lessons and laughs that brought us close were the gold.

The 49ers were still pigs though.