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,



To Express Junior Year Thus-far

…in 34 Gifs. Ready, go.
Everyday in Trig-Precalc:
When the counselor took over 5th period to have the “Scary Junior Talk”:
When our Spanish teacher has random outbursts that are borderline socially unacceptable:
When I picked a song I really liked the night before to be my alarm in the morning and woke up hating it for waking me up. (If that makes sense) :
Seminary at exactly 6:22 am and teacher’s telling that cop story we’ve already heard twice:
Getting all the Physics homework right because it’s about gravity and gravity makes sense:
Me at to kid who went to Chipotle for lunch and isn’t sharinggg:
Seeing that kid walk by who you know is taking 5 AP’s and is captain of the Football team AND has a girlfriend:
The computer jocks in film who claim PC’s are superior to Macs:
That lovable weirdness that resides in all my friends:
When teachers don’t realize that together they’re giving us 7+ hours of homework per night. TALK TO EACH OTHER FOR CHEESE SAKES YOU ALL SHARE A BREAK ROOM DO YOU NOT?!
Every single single boy my age:
“So does anybody have any questions?”:
When parents say that these are the best days of our lives:
Having my dad as my APUSH teacher:
When sweater weather knocked on our door yesterday:
Trying to put kids to bed babysitting:
Turning on my phone to iOS7 after it downloaded all night:
Haring tiresome words like, “SAT”, “PSAT”, “ACT”, “College Visits”, “CCC”, “Letters of Rec”, “hashtag yolo swag”:
That time when I was walking back onto campus at the end of Friday tutorial with Starbucks in hand and saw the yard duty marching towards me shoulders hunched pink notepad in hand:
When film teacher asks who can storyboard:
Freshman. Just all the Freshman that are everywhere:
“Frieeeeend, can I have a nibble of that delicious-looking Luna bar? Pluheez?”:
“Hey Syd, how was school?”:
How the people who make those amazing vines circulating Facebook must feel:
The american educational system:
“Syd syd syd let us go say hi to cute boy over yonder”:
“Ooh I love the way ^^ooh I love the way you make me feel I love it I love it” 
Being a teenager having to cope with other teenagers
Friends and our addiction to snapchatting during lunch:
Seeing any sunset, puppy, puddle, or rainbow:
In summary of Junior year thus far:
as expressed in gifs :) Thank you Mr. Wilhite

The Saddest Week of my Life.

I wrote “love” on my arms on Monday for suicide awareness week, because that’s what it was. And then I  had to go over the faded letters again in pen on Tuesday, 9/11, because I heard about Sally. Her name isn’t Sally, but it’s better that I call her that.

Sally had done exactly what Suicide Awareness Week was established to prevent. She had succumbed to teen depression, and made a choice that would cause permanent results not just for her, but for her family and for her friends, and for her teachers, and any of those who knew her name.

This week a grey blanket lay over my school where she once laughed with her friends in the halls. It was sad at first, awfully sad. And then it changed to a solemn sense of remembering. Remembering her life, remembering if there was anyone else at school who had shown the same symptoms as Sally, or who had shown them that day. In my circle of friends, we found a few and checked in on them. We cried together as a school, and it was cold and dark. Not yet rainy. We cried together at lunch as friends and in classes with teachers. We held each other, and were always asking,

Are you okay?

My spanish teacher put her desk where she had sat in the back of the room facing the class, holding cards and flowers. The desk seemed sad. A table was set up by a wall where a poster read her name and people wrote messages to her. Unsaid thoughts written in Crayola marker on the poster and on the table sat flowers, several bouquets, just as beautiful as her life had been. A friend brought candles, and we lit them reverently.

I haven’t been the same. Nobody has. It’s hard to put any effort into anything, like studying or Volleyball. All drive to do things seems to be gone because there’s a hole in our school and sadness in every corner. But there’s always hope. I’m looking back up at the candle as I type… fire is hope and sorrow. It’s okay to be sad, but that sadness must spark a change. I’m still sad, but I also went to church today. Oh thank heaven for church. It’s thanks to my religion that I know where Sally rests. I do. Again, that’s faith.

All will be okay. It will be better than okay because there is still good, good life in this world. I believe that Sally is not lost, and she did not live her life here on earth in vain, because it was beautiful. And it was something to learn from. Something big enough to wake up a whole school and city. And I believe that I will see Sally again later, and we’ll all run up to hug her. We will all remember how to laugh again soon. Together. That’s what Sally would have  wanted. And may she rest in Paradise.

“Don’t forget to love each other”  – Our Principal

Jammie Church- April 2012

Jammie Church. Exactly what it sounds like. Wake up, grab a blanket, curl up on the couch by your brothers and watch church on T.V. while your dad’s deep fries some cheese puffs on the stove. Yupp just a little piece of heaven.

Every six months we have church in our living room, in our jammies under a small mountain of blankets. We listen to our prophet (Roughly equivalent to the mormon pope) speak to us about how to be better people, how to make our way back to Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ. We listen to his apostles, who share similar and different messages and who’s wit and kind smiles warm the international audience watching. We sing with the mo-tab choir. Or at least try to keep up with their swells of sopranos and baritones. The adults (*ahem* yes that’s me) reign in the boys for at least forty five minutes to listen. When that time’s up we release the monkeys to play legos until lunch, knowing that in six months, the monkeys attention spans will be a little longer. Until then, more blanket for us!

We had bought an egg-dying kit in an attempt for some sunday-ritual variation. I used cold water instead of warm so it was a mini disaster but boys live for messes so it was okay.

“It’s Hatch-eeing it’s HATCH-eeing!!!” (Talking about a cracked egg shell)

Calm before the spillage

We love Monson. We love all of the apostles but especially the senior disciple of my big brother, Jesus Christ. It simply made sense, all that was said today. I wouldn’t be able to quote anyone directly, but my happy meter is full. Isn’t that what makes a good church?

America’s Youth: Famous and Not

America’s youth has not gone down the drain. Put a sock in it Wall-Street.

You want an accurate report on how America’s Young-un’s are fairing? Take a look at Hollywood. Because America’s youth follows Hollywood like a love-sick puppy dog.

Generally speaking, we follow fashions, whether they be innocent or Lady Gaga-ish. Actually not generally… we do. One day I’ll go further in depth on that gold-mine of a post but for now, here’s a video. Of some Hollywood Teens that many normal teens love. Most originated from Disney Channel, the heartstrings of my generation. Cute, simple and purely innocent. Funny, this video doesn’t make me wish I was them. It makes me want to call up some friends… and make some new ones.

(BTW, Jonas Brothers: Your Pro-Abstinence glory post is in the works!)

Enjoy dear reader, enjoy.




Soon, very soon I will be blogging from one a’these babies.

Owh yeeea. Let the angels sing and let me move out of my parents computer.

I smell change. Some philosophy AND visual juicy goodness? Let’s mix the two and give you something nobody, not even Steven Tyler has seen.

Stay dehydrated my friends.

The Season of Happy

This is what happens when I’m on a sugar high and my pondering juices are flowing, the result is unorganized and random; sometimes funny. Enjoy!

For the last two weeks it’s either been “Happy Christmas!” (In England) or “Happy New Years!”

So what’s with all the Happy?

Happy, meaning that these have been the two happiest weeks of the year! (Ignoring the fact that it’s 2012 now.)

‘Cmon it’s common sweet knowledge! Ever since Kindergarten the same anticipation awaits the third week of December. A little kid shudders with glee at the thought of Santa, presents, and candy galore. The 25th eventually arrives and they’ll toss and turn all night with glee, straining in the dark to hear that distant HO HO HO, (Or the Polar Express). Words can’t express the euphoria of christmas morning to a small child. So I’ll just skip that description and let you ponder you’re own memories.

happy, Happy, HAPPY!

The “Christmas Hangover” on the 27th, leaves small children to play with their happy new treasures and adults to check finances then happily hitting the treadmill.  We descend from the climax of Christmas, go on a hike and eat sugar cookies (Contradictory I know). Dry douglas firs are thrown to the curb and lights are wrapped in a “Griswold Ball” and stuffed in the attic with all the other Christmas frippery. We vacuum our houses and get Martinelli’s on sale at Lucky. We’re still happy. Muy feliz.

New Years comes… with hardly a climax as high as Jesus’ Birthday, but keeps the spirit happy all the same as long as we’re still on vacation. Why do we say “Happy New Years”? Simply, we’re too lazy to say “Have a Happy New Year”. Plus, it’s uncomfortably sincere to tell  a stranger, “I hope you have a Happy New Year!” .*Whatever happened to George Bailey’s days, when you could in fact, wish a sincere Happy New Year on a stranger? What’s the word… not chivalry… not courteousness… CIVILITY. Where’s that American Civility guys? Some people might say it’s back in the 50’s or 60’s. Now I’m not saying it’s jumped off the face of the earth, just that Civility isn’t in fashion anymore. But that’s the funny thing about fashion, and why I’m not a beauty/fashion blogger… many people don’t heed what the designers say and there are fashion Rebels. Proof? Mullets. Mullet-headed men are a rare and awesome species. Needless to say, Mullets won’t be around forever so if you have a mullet, I SALUTE YOU!

We’re all fashion rebels at heart because fashion doesn’t just cover clothes. (No pun intended) Fashion is in the way we speak and talk to people. Lingo over the years changes and so do human behaviors. Civility sadly, is one that was put on the chopping block a while ago. You fashion rebels out there who still celebrate and practice civility, I salute you especially.

WOW. Off topic much Syd? I went from childhood holiday memories to Civility on the chopping block of urban existence. Well this is why I’m writing a blog, and not a book. (Knock on wood!) May I start over?

We’ve taken “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year” and dulled their distinction into something that one could shout to the world aimlessly. Last night when 11:59 flicked to 12:00 I could have easily ran outside, stood in the middle of the street and shouted to the world “Happy New Year” and nobody in the neighborhood would have thought that extremely weird. If you think about it… “Happy New Year” doesn’t really make sense to someone as weirdly philosophical as I. (If this doesn’t make sense, remember it’s the sugar high talking)

“Happy New Year”. “Happy Christmas”. What are you trying to say?! It’s gonna be a happy new year? I hope that you have a happy new year? This Christmas should be a happy one?!

happy, Happy, HAPPY! 

My conclusion? We’re just so happy during this season of happiness, it would take a monkey brain to put the word “happy” in front of everything!

(Which also makes sense because people who are not happy during this season, the “Bah-Humbuggers”, hardly wish anyone a Merry Christmas! See? Monkey Brain!)

So the spirit of Happiness and Mullets, me and my sugar high wish you a Happy New Year for you and yours. Not only that it’ll be a Happy one but one of civility and uncomfortable sincerity. You should try it sometime!



The Golden Rule.

                                                                                                                                              (Norman Rockwell)

Matthew 22:35

Okay so we’ve all heard the saying since kid-hood. And it’s always made sense.

But as we were discussing it at church today, in my Young Women’s class (the teen girls group) this old and familliar theory got a new twist.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

You would never bring yourself down, disrespect yourself or hurt your own feelings right?

Is it possible to hurt your own feelings?

You bet.

And how do you respect yourself? Well I respect my parents and elders by backing off, and not gettig too pushy. Right?

So “Respect” requires two people.

So I’ll use my spirit and my physical body. I can respect my body by say… Dressing decently. Where I can feel cute in what I’m wearing but still cover up. I love modesty. But that’s a whole ‘nother post (;

It’s a mormon belief that there was a war in heaven between God and his children and Satan and his followers over should inherit the earth. And we beleive that even if you are walking on this earth today, or have and ever will, that you fought on God’s side. And you fought to have a physical body.

Even if you don’t share my beliefs, it’s still a cool story. We fought a WAR for these bodies! That makes me want to treat mine like a prized posession!
Don’t you?!

And to wrap this up, because tomorrow’s Monday, I just want to exclaim to the world: WE ARE SUPPOSED TO LOVE IMPERFECT THINGS!

We love our families right? They aren’t perfect!
Our friends and neighbors?

So how come we can’t just love ourselves, just the way we are, because we aren’t “perfect”?

I swear I see these people all the time at school, they fry the hair, slather on the makeup, pull over the hood because they don’t love themselves! They desperatley try to acheive perfect, when that isn’t possible! “PERFECT” is a word that shouldn’t exist because nothing on this planet can acheive it. Not even IBM’s Watson is perfect guys!

So please, love yourself enough to be humble. And I promise you’ll find something that wasn’t there before.