Alex Munoz, Filmmaker and Founder of FYI Films: The story of The Scorpion and The Toad…do you know that story?
Film Courage: No?
Alex: They [his class] love this story and we act it out. So there is a toad, right? And he’s walking around and a scorpion comes down and says Hey, Toad. I need to get to the other side of the street. You know I can’t swim. Please help me. And the toad says I’m not going to help you because you’re going to sting me. I know how scorpions are.
Film Courage: What is Day 1 like for the FYI workshop [Alex’s program with incarcerated youth]? What are you going over first?
Alex: Well, Day 1 my students are like this [folds his arms in front] like Who are you? Some Hollywood guy telling us how to make films. And they’re like We don’t want to make Hollywood “b.s.” films. We want to make real sh*t. We don’t want to make fake stuff.
So they are…they resist me. And when I say We’re going to make a film. They do these phobic tilts like What? What is he talking about? How are we going to make a film? We’re locked in here? You’re feeding us b.s. Then I show them films that were made in the past and then they are Oh wow? And they become open to the possibility that they can really write and direct and perform their film over there.
So the first day is just ice breaker, it’s me getting them…me learning to trust them and them learning to trust me and we talk about stories. For instance, I start out every day with the story of The Scorpion and The Toad…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
FYI Films Mission:
FYI Films empowers youth affected by the juvenile justice system to improve their lives and become self-reliant. Through media literacy and the creative story-telling process, youth find their voice and gain valuable skills that are transferable to all areas of their life.
About FYI Films:
Founded in 2004, FYI FILMS has produced over thirty-five film workshops with youth in LA County, Guam and Hawaii. In these workshops, youth write, direct and perform their own short narrative films based on their past. By making films informed by their own immediate history, the process of filmmaking helps them to gain perspective on their lives. FYI FILMS regularly screens these films to policy makers, giving them insight into the lives of young people from economically disadvantaged communities, and thus helps inform them as they craft policy regarding juvenile offenders. FYI FILMS is a high impact program, and through a three year study, has proven to put a serious dent into recidivism rates in LA County.
FYI FILMS continues to change the lives of incarcerated youth. To date, the organization has helped to make over fifty-five films by offering high impact film workshops to a population that is both underserved and marginalized. FYI FILMS believes that every young person deserves a second chance to turn their lives around. Telling stories helps incarcerated youth gain invaluable perspective on their lives. By giving them the tools to make short, dramatic films based on their own personal and immediate history, it renders their past unrepeatable.
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