Do you remember your 11th birthday? What about your 12th? What were you doing? What was your favorite TV show? Who was your best friend? What was the saddest thing that had ever happened to you up to that point?
For me, it's all pretty hazy. You know...they were the awkward years. But now that I spend everyday with an 11 year old son, I'm sometimes viscerally reminded of just how confusing and transitional this time actually was. Tweens occupy a kind of weird but amazing phase in life; they've got one foot firmly rooted in childhood and one foot stepping into adolescence. There's just a whole lot going on: questions about self-esteem and body image, mortality and sexuality start entering the picture but that kid/adolescent brain is not quite sure how to sort it all out.
I suppose this is why so many of us forget about these years--because we were still works in progress.
I'm a filmmaker by profession and have volunteered some time over the years filming my son Jack's classmates at his elementary school.
Last year I thought it might be interesting to film some very short interviews with a class of 4th graders just to see what they would say. Here's what they said: 4th Grade
Now that this group of 60+ kids is heading to middle school, I'm planning to film more extensive interviews with each 5th grader this June. I'm going to spend roughly 30 minutes with each student, asking them a wide range of questions.
The final project will be a documentary short called "Before." My goal is to explore and even celebrate this awkward and thankfully fleeting phase of life.
The final video will live on a site we are creating called thebeforeproject.org
Our plan is to create an interactive site where people from around the world can contribute content and stories about the tween years.
The "Before" documentary is meant to start of conversation more than make a statement. The kids I'm filming are not an extremely diverse bunch and I realize that whatever we create is only part of a much bigger story that extends across culture, race, income, time era, etc..
thebeforeproject.org will be a place to collect these stories and content so that experiences of tweens around the world can be heard.
The final film will be finished in September, 2014. All backers will have access to a full HD download of the finished documentary.
Risks and challenges
Fortunately this is a very straightforward production with a simple location and set up. That said, we need at least 30 hours of production time and the participation of as many 5th graders in this class as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)