In 2009, James Cameron’s epic film Avatar was released after four years of production, pushing the limits of visual effects and grossing a record-breaking $2.9 billion at the box office. But beyond its impressive action scenes and special effects, the movie also explores deeper themes such as racism, colonialism, and corporate greed. For our Second Maker project of the year, we delved into these themes and examined their real-world relevance in a project we called First Films.

Our goal for First Films was to engage and entertain an audience using our video and storytelling skills. To do this, we used the filmmaking skills we had learned in our previous project to create short films that explored one of the themes represented in Avatar. We also included interviews with people from around the world in our films to add depth and perspective. Our films were to be presented at our Avatar themed winter exhibition.

I chose to focus my film on racism, specifically racism against Indigenous people. After some initial storyboarding and research, I was fortunate to secure an interview with Naomi Narcisse, a manager of Indigenous education programs at the University of British Columbia. To further enrich my film, I also visited the Museum of Anthropology at UBC for background footage. Along with this, I spent time refining my script and finding additional footage to use. I then edited it together, added a voiceover, and uploaded it. This is my film:

Along with the other films in the project, my film was showcased at the winter exhibition. Our exhibition was a huge success, with each group presenting their work on different themes in separate rooms. The racism group was split into the “human room” and the “Na’vi room” (the fictional species from Avatar), with the message being that the humans had it easier than the Na’vi.

I received many compliments on my film and was grateful for the opportunity to talk to members of the community and share my work with them. Through First Films, I was able to delve into the themes of Avatar and touch on important social issues, using my storytelling and video-making skills to engage an audience and hopefully expand their knowledge on these topics. I am proud of the film I created and the knowledge I gained through the process