Iakovos Panagopoulos Delivers StoryLab California (Wind Wolves Preserve) Workshop 2019

This year I had the amazing opportunity to lead for the second time the StoryLab workshops in Wind Wolves Preserve. After the first round of the workshops in 2018 and my first meeting with Tejon Native American community, I knew that this year was essential in order to go more in depth in storytelling and filmmaking techniques. My first trip in 2018 was a life changing experience to me that completely changed some aspects of my life and made me understand that this is an area that I really want to dedicate a part of my research in the future. My introduction to the archeological excavations by Dr. David Robinson in Wind Wolves Preserve, my collaboration with Tejon tribe and my stay in this breathtaking landscape helped me to understand the importance of these workshop to the native community and to the research that we are doing in StoryLab.

This year the set up was a bit different in order to focus more in the topic “Myth, History, Heritage”. The participants of the workshops were Tejon Native American community members, Chumash Native American community members and UCLan archeology students and stuff. For this year I wanted to give them more in depth knowledge in the technical aspects of mobile filmmaking and that is why I invited my friend and colleague Petros Antoniadis, who is a Director of Photography and lives in L.A., to deliver a three hours workshop on guerilla filmmaking, mobile shooting and d.i.y. light design. Also, I used an open and really user-friendly editing software (videopad) in order for them to continue using it after the end of the workshops. In order also to focus on this year topic “Myth, History, Heritage” I invited Prof. Katerina Zacharia from LMU who presented her short Documentary Blessing and Vows (2018) and continued with a Q&A session where she explained her aesthetical choices and the use of Myth and History as basic elements of her narration.

So, this year the whole group had to create one short film together. They had to create the story, preproduction, shoot it and edit it in a week. It was amazing to see all these different people, from different backgrounds to collaborate together to create a piece that was going to talk about the history of the landscape that we were all living in for that period. Since last year what really amazes me is the connection that one gets when he lives for a small period in Wind Wolves Preserve. You get connected with the nature and the landscape right away. Even if you are the most materialist person you cannot leave this area without getting touched by everything inside. So, this year topic was an experimental film with Myth and History being actual people where Myth was trying to teach History her approach. The film went great and all of the participants worked together really well to get the final product.

I believe that this second year helped me to approach the workshops better since I feel more connected with the history and background of the community and the place. Is the first time for me also to feel this connected with the spirituality of a place and learning more about the stories and myths of Native Americans amazed me so much that a really important part of my research is now based on this area. My basic aim is to check on the impact of these workshops in the next six months and see how much the community is using storytelling and filmmaking. I am also aiming to go back there in order to start more in-depth workshops in filmmaking and as a final goal maybe create a California Native American film festival where different tribes could collaborate together to create short film in order to screen them together. I am really looking forward for the future research in this area and to collaborate with the tribes in order to create amazing new projects.

Iakovos Panagopoulos Portrait

Iakovos Panagopoulos