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#064 Gifted Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week does #giftedjoy w/ Marc Smolowitz

Featured Image #064 Gifted Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week does #giftedjoy w Marc Smolowitz
It’s Gifted, Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week; and we’re Bringing Joy & Equity in Focus with this year’s theme. As a proud partner of The G Word, Our Gifted Kids is delighted to raise awareness once again with a whole week of podcasts. Actually, 6 episodes! Where we talk about #gifted joy! GTN Awareness Week Podcast Line Up
  • Marc Smolowitz introduces the week with – #064 Gifted Talented & Neurodiversity Awareness Week does #giftedjoy
  • Monday
    • #065 Gifted Joy & Gifted Play; Why it’s Different w/ Kate Donohue
  • Tuesday
    • #066 Why Gifted Folk Need Board Games! w/ Justin Ratcliff
  • Wednesday
    • #067 How to Express Your Gifted Self with Digital Music & Art w/ Johannes Dreyer
  • Thursday
    • #068 A Higher Skate of Mind for Gifted Kids w/ Josh Smith
  • Friday
    • #069 Why Dungeons & Dragons is Gifted Bliss w/ Sam Young
Enjoyed the podcasts? Our online community is currently open until midnight Thursday 3 November! Find out more here! Or subscribe, join our online community or get freebies, say thanks at ourgiftedkids.com Please leave a review on your podcast player and help parents find us! Our GTN Awareness Week Guest Links Bio Marc Smolowitz Marc Smolowitz is a multi-award-winning director, producer, and executive producer who has been significantly involved in 50+ independent films. The combined footprint of his works has touched 250+ film festivals & markets on 5 continents, yielding substantial worldwide sales to theatrical, television, and VOD outlets, notable box office receipts, and numerous awards and nominations. His credits include films that have screened at the world’s top-tier festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Tribeca, Locarno, Chicago, Palm Springs, SF FILM, AFI Docs, IDFA, DOC NYC, CPH: DOX, Tokyo, Melbourne, Viennale, Jerusalem, among others. In 2009, Marc founded 13th Gen, a San Francisco-based boutique film and entertainment company (see: https://www.13thgenfilm.com/) that works with a dynamic range of independent film partners globally to oversee the financing, production, post-production, marketing, sales, and distribution efforts of a vibrant portfolio of films and filmmakers. The company has successfully advanced Marc’s career-long focus on powerful social issue filmmaking across all genres. In 2016, he received one of the prestigious Gotham Media Fellowships to attend the Cannes Film Festival’s Producers Network marking him as one of the USA’s most influential independent film producers. In 2022, Marc is currently in post-production on THE G WORD — a feature-length documentary that aims to be the most comprehensive film ever made on the topics of gifted, talented, and neurodiverse education across the United States. The film asks the urgent equity question — In the 21st century, who gets to be Gifted in America and Why?. Learn more at: https://www.thegwordfilm.com/ Hit play and let’s get started!

Transcript

[00:00:00] Sophia Elliott: Hello and welcome to this week’s podcast. It’s extra special. It’s extra special because we have Marc, Smolowitz joining us to introduce next. Week’s gifted, talented. And neurodiversity awareness week. Yep. It’s been a whole Since last And you may have been around last year, but we did a whole week of podcasts. It was a bit crazy. And so naturally we thought let’s do crazy again this year. And so next week we have a whole week of podcasts.

[00:00:33] And we’ve got mark here today to introduce the week to you. So we have a great chat. First of all, he gives us a bit of an update about The G Word now. If you’re not aware of The G Word, The G Word is a film length documentary that is currently. Under post production. And mark is the producer and director. And.

[00:00:54] The person behind And. It’s going to be awesome. I’m really looking forward to it. Eventual release. And our gifted kids is one of many partners of The G Word and it’s our absolute privilege to support it in any and every way that we can, because. Just having a feature length documentary on giftedness is much needed in our world. And I know mark and his team are going to do.

[00:01:21] An incredible job of it. So mark updates us on where The G Word Film is up to and what we can look forward to in that, which is really exciting Also, he gives us a little background about this year’s theme of gifted, talented, new I diversity awareness week,

[00:01:40] which is bringing joy and equity into focus. So that provided all sorts of opportunities for The G Word partners, such as ourselves and here in our gifted kids, we have decided to focus on joy. Because why not, who couldn’t use a little bit of joy and a little bit of play in a little bit of silly. And so we usually have pretty let’s face it pretty intense episodes. And I’m not saying they’re any less intense next week, but they are about joy and play. And so we have a week’s worth of guests joining us to talk about all sorts of things that bring us joy.

[00:02:16] And play, and maybe you’ll get a few ideas for yourself and your family.

[00:02:21] So check out the show notes. There is a link to gifted, talented in your Ida Versiti awareness week. If you sign up, it’ll be through The G words page. You will be kept up to date on all of the free events that are going on next week. Outside of our amazing week of podcasts, there is all sorts of free programming.

[00:02:45] Online that you can join into is truly awesome. Check it out, sign up. And the link is below. Uh, also at our gifted kids, as I said, you can tune into a whole week’s worth of podcasts. You can sign up@ourgiftedkids.com to stay ahead of what’s going on and what podcasts are coming out. And our online communities are open.

[00:03:09] Until the 3rd of November. So it’s an opportunity to join one of our online communities. We have three different options to join, which is all a little bit new and very exciting. So there’s bound to be something there that suits you again, links in the show notes. Have an amazing joyful week. Please enjoy this episode.

[00:03:31] They will be a bonus part to Mark’s episode that I think I’ll release after the week is over where he talks about. Some of the most surprising things and interesting things he’s learned on his journey. It’s a really great conversation. And I’ve decided to do that as a second. Part of a podcast because is really interesting.

[00:03:53] So we released that after GTN awareness week. So have a great week. Sign up, get involved and stay quirky. See you soon. Bye.

[00:04:36] Well, hello and welcome to another podcast. I am actually very excited to be welcoming back, Mark Smolowitz, uh, Mark. I’ve, I’ve got your new bio here and I’m gonna do the whole shebang cuz I was reading it earlier and I was like, damn, that is impressive. . Let’s remind everyone who Mark is because you’ve been on the podcast a few times and it’s always been such a delight.

[00:04:59] So everyone meet Mark. Mark Smolowitz is a multi award-winning director, producer, and executive producer has been significantly involved in over 50 independent films. His credits include films that have screened at the world’s top tier festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Tribeca, A Bunch here. Palm Springs, I d a, Tokyo, Melbourne, Australia, uh, Jerusalem, and so many others.

[00:05:28] In 2009, Mark founded 13th Gen, a San Francisco based boutique film and entertainment company that works with a dynamic range of independent film partners globally to oversee the financing, production, post production, marketing, sales, and distribution efforts of a vibrant portfolio of films and filmmakers.

[00:05:50] The company has successfully advanced mark’s career long focus on powerful social issue filmmaking across all genres. So remember that one. That’s key. In 2016, he received one of the prestigious Gotham Media Fellowships to attend the Kane’s film festivals produces network marking him as one of the USA’s most influential independent film producers.

[00:06:15] I feel like I should suddenly be in awe. .

[00:06:19] Marc Smolowitz: Well, thank you. I mean, I always, Yeah, absolutely. You know, these bios are so funny, right? Because these sort of, they, they serve their purpose, right? And they sort of, you know, they do, they do encapsulate, you know, kind of who you are and your accomplishments. But at the end of the day, for your listeners, I guess what I want them to know most about me is that I’m a pretty lucky guy who gets to wake up every day and do the thing that he loves, and that’s film.

[00:06:43] And I’ve been doing this thing. Absolutely. I’ve been doing this thing called independent filmmaking now for over 30 years. I’m my own boss. I’m the entrepreneur of my own company. I get to kind of, you know, when I’m doing my job really well, I’m creating jobs for other talented people. I’m helping get their movies on the screen.

[00:07:00] You know, I wear a lot of different hats and my day is very diverse. This company is typically involved in at least 10 projects at any given time. You know, I, I’m, you know, I’m a producer with a Capital P, you know, that’s the way I often describe it. But I also, you know, I take lots of different kinds of roles now, you know, the older and wiser I get, I’m able to sort of distribute my time and my efforts across many more films and filmmakers.

[00:07:23] So that portfolio is really global in scope. And so I, you know, I’m based in San Francisco, but I’m in touch with many time zones around the globe every day, every week. And my work typically touches about. 50 to a hundred people each week depending on, you know, how engaged or active my teams are. And yeah, it’s so, I’m, I’m a lucky guy.

[00:07:43] I, I really love my job and yes, it’s hard work and yes, I need to raise a lot of money all the time. So there’s pressure and stress and deadlines, but the payoff is, is when the work speaks for itself and it can connect with audiences and, and sort of touch their hearts and change their minds and entertain them and enlighten them and, and yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s been a huge gift.

[00:08:04] I’m a very lucky guy.

[00:08:06] Sophia Elliott: Well, it is truly awesome and I really draw attention to the fact that you’re very much about the social issues. Mm-hmm. And you really see that if in the films that you do. So in particular you are in post-production for The, G Word, a feature length documentary that aims to be the most comprehensive film ever made on the topics of gifted, talented, and neurodiverse education across the us.

[00:08:33] And the film asked the urgent equity question, and I love that, the urgent equity question in the 21st century, who gets to be gifted in America and why? Thank you for doing all that work and working on well, I can’t wait to see in the future as an awesome document.

[00:08:54] Marc Smolowitz: Well thank you for that. I mean, you know, it is now easily year seven on the road to making The G Word documentary, so I wanna own that, you know, in front of your audience that this has taken some time.

[00:09:06] You use the word comprehensive that is in the description because it really is going to be very comprehensive. It’s probably been no film quite like it yet. The film will have six very bold and beautiful stories. It took quite a bit of time to find those stories and, you know, kind of, you know, they didn’t just appear, you know, on my laptop one day.

[00:09:25] I had to really go out in the world and find them, right. That took years and it took years to raise the money to kind of build the relationships and the infrastructure to kind of, you. The film really to be made. And long story short, you know, we had basically shot the whole movie by the end of 2019 and then the pandemic happened.

[00:09:44] Right. And, and mind you, it’s been quite possible for me to be making movies during the pandemic. It’s not like my business stopped. It really did not. And in fact, you know, I’ve been extremely busy. But, but it did, The pandemic did sort of shift some things around sort of, you know, how I wanted to approach The G Word documentary.

[00:10:02] We started editing and it was really important to me to take my time to figure out how to do this right? Right. Because as you know, through your podcast and the important work that you do, that the gifted communities around the world, if we can call them, that, you know, they are struggling quite a bit and have their struggles and there’s a lot of trauma there.

[00:10:19] And so it behooves me as the independent filmmaker who wants to make this movie to make it extremely well right. And have it be very meaningful and very impactful. So during 2020 and during 2021, we spent a lot of time getting feedback and really sort of testing the stories. So those six stories that I had mentioned I had to kind of create them first with my editor as standalone stories.

[00:10:45] Standalone stories. So six, basically six movies, right? And together, you know, they were about two hours and 40 minutes, right? So that’s not, you know, you can’t sit down and watch a movie for two hours and 40 minutes. But we had to sort of make sure that these six stories worked right and that they were, you know, kind of powerful and could stand on their own legs.

[00:11:05] And so what I did was I screened them virtually on Vimeo, privately in, in small groups of stakeholders among our advisors and partners and people who have expertise in the field to really gut check, are we doing this right? You know, then took all that feedback back into the editing room and have started to build out the long form movie.

[00:11:25] So this year, 2022 has been that process of trying to weave together the six stories and make them, make them make sense together to answer that question, Who gets to be gifted in America and why? And you know, knowing that you are based in Australia and that your audience is global. I mean, one thing I will say is the film is decidedly American because it’s set in the United States.

[00:11:45] I have found these stories. So our education system is the focus, but I really have, I’m creating a movie that is decidedly human in scope and really focuses on the emotional journeys of my characters. So I do feel with great, great deal of confidence that it will work all around the world. It will probably really work here in the US and or maybe in North America, but I think it’s gonna make sense in all the English language territories.

[00:12:12] You. Easily. And then outside of the English language territories, I really wanna, I really think we’re gonna connect with people and sort of show them a way to think about giftedness in the 21st century, which is unexpected, right? And really founded on this belief that, that giftedness and neurodiversity really are part of the same conversation.

[00:12:31] And that if you’re gonna think about giftedness and neurodiversity in the same conversation, you cannot separate that conversation from people’s identities and lived experience, right? Mm-hmm. . So if you’re African American and gifted, that’s gotta be a part of the story. If you’re queer or LGBTQ and gifted, That’s gotta be a part of the story, right?

[00:12:50] If you’re Latinx, if you’re Asian American, if you’re anything else, and gifted, like if you’re poor and gifted, like, so the movie really leans into this idea that identity is always in the room. And so one of the ways I also described the film is that is sort of a polyvocal meditation on how, how, how our identities intersect with our giftedness.

[00:13:13] And you really see that in my characters, right? And, and we will take you to places and spaces that you don’t expect to encounter giftedness. And so I have a story that is at the US Mexico border in a, in a migrant community that is largely Latinx, Spanish speaking. I have a story on a Native American reservation, so there’s kind of an indigenous arc.

[00:13:32] I have a story that takes you inside of prison. I think that’s really gonna surprise people. So there’s, there’s a lot going on here that will be decidedly unique, I hope. And I’m, you know, I’m excited to. Get the movie done. I’m, I’ve stopped making promises about the delivery date because I don’t wanna sort of set myself up for, you know, we didn’t raise the money or we didn’t quite get there.

[00:13:52] But, you know, full, full disclosure of this movie costs about 1.3 million US dollars, right? So it’s been quite a lift to raise all the money and we still have about 200,000 more to raise to really finish it, right. But we’re doing well, We’re doing well. So I’m excited about what 2023 can bring and whenever it’s done and whatever it winds up looking like, it will be, you know, delivered as relevant and timely.

[00:14:17] Because there’s so much going on in real time with gifted and, you know, in our country and around globe. And it’s important that there be a timeliness factor to these stories. So the stories will stand on their own, but, but we’ll embed the movie with some urgency. There’ll be some smart archival storytelling in there to kind of remind us all that this stuff doesn’t exist in a vacuum, right?

[00:14:36] There’s a news and ecosystem news and information ecosystem that is fueling a lot of misunderstanding and stereotypes and kinda mischaracterizations of the gifted narrative, you know, in the United States and elsewhere. So our movie is part and parcel of all that wonderful craziness, right, that we all struggle with every day.

[00:14:53] Who, and people who care about this stuff and care about these populations who are work, working on these issues. Like, like, you know, my hope is that this movie is for you, and you’re gonna see this movie, You’re gonna sit in this movie theater, and you’re gonna just go, Wow, this is our stories, these are our stories, but it’s also gonna be created and delivered in such a way where the mainstream can see it and connect with it too, right?

[00:15:14] And. And so, yeah, it’s, it’s an exciting moment. You know, I, I sort of see the finish line, you know, you know, if it’s a, you know, a marathon is 26.2 miles or something. Mm-hmm. I think that, you know, this is, we’re at mile 24, 25. We’re really getting close. It’s, it’s on the horizon.

[00:15:32] Sophia Elliott: Well, that’s super exciting and I love that, you know, , you’re just talking to the complexity of identity.

[00:15:40] Uh, and if there’s one thing that I have definitely experienced doing the podcast is just that universality of giftedness, and you’re a divergency. Doesn’t matter where you are in the world, these themes resonate so personally, and, and you know, we have listeners from all sorts of very surprising places, and the feedback is always it’s just that universality of.

[00:16:12] The, the journey and the, the highs within the journey and the lows within the journey and the struggles, you know, al almost seem to be global. Like I don’t, I’ve yet to come across anywhere that does this well. And for the most part we’re all suffering under a lot of misconceptions. So very excited that we’re in the home straight for something that can shine a real light for all of us.

[00:16:36] Because I do think, you know, while you’ve said there sort of US based stories, I do think and feel very strongly that we’ll be able to connect with that from wherever we are. And you have released shorts that will give people a sense and a taste of the film. And we periodically share and reshare those on, uh, on our Facebook page because they’re.

[00:17:00] Such beautiful touching stories. And I can say if that’s anything to go by when you, you know, when we all eventually do sit down to watch a, I bring tissues because it is a very emotive, these journeys like very intense, complex, emotive, uh, narratives. And I’m super excited that you’ve gone to different places, the unexpected because just that idea of what is giftedness and where will you see it, uh, I think is, is something that really needs a, a light shined on it.

[00:17:35] So that’s so exciting. And Yeah, it’s, it’s no pressure about an end date, but we’re super excited that we’re, we’re getting to those final stages, .

[00:17:46] Marc Smolowitz: It’s okay. You know, I, I put plenty of pressure on myself and that’s kinda the nature, the nature of the job, Right. But I think, you know, I want people to be hungry for it, and I appreciate people’s excitement and, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m excited to get it out there.

[00:18:00] So we’re, we’re, we’re pushing hard. This is a big time for

[00:18:02] Sophia Elliott: us. Absolutely. And there’s a lot that goes on. Like, we first spoke, uh, back in about January, 2021. Uh, I was only five months into doing the podcast, uh, so it was like our 11th episode, and you’ve been back a couple of times since then. So it’s like, as I reflect on that journey and you coming back to let us know how you’re going, I’m hugely grateful for your presence along the way and that we’ve sort of have been able to.

[00:18:36] Share your journey through, you know, our podcast journey as well. Mm-hmm. , I had a quick look. The very first time you joined us we were, we had about a thousand listens a month and we’re up to over eight, more than 8,000 a month. Last month it was like 8,000. Amazing. Yeah. And it’s just kind of like, it was interesting to look back at that journey and that growth in this sort of parallel.

[00:19:07] But I do feel like since, you know, we last spoke so much has happened. It was like another year ago for me. So like how has the last year been for you?

[00:19:19] Marc Smolowitz: Well, it’s been remarkably productive. I mean, I, you know, for me, you know, I have this vibrant film company and every day I’m making movies and wow, this has been a great year for that.

[00:19:28] I mean, there’s been, you know, a lot of personal and professional success, and I’m really proud of that. And the company is doing well and it’s nice to be able to say that and really be proud of that. And then on The, G Word, you know, it’s been a great year. It’s been a creative year. I mean, we, like I said, we’re weaving together the, the movie and, you know, there’s nothing more creative than that.

[00:19:49] I mean, as I sort of, you know, look back on that process, you know, 20, I told you 2020 in 2021 were about these kind of six parts, right? And getting deep feedback from the gifted community This year and fairly recently we got the movie to a two hour and five minute rough cut. I, I guess I’d say it was the first sort of screenable rough cut if you.

[00:20:10] And I was invited to a very prestigious filmmakers retreat in Vermont, you know, here in the Northeast. And I sat for a week with nine other filmmakers, and we just watched each other’s work in progress and gave each other feedback. And it was powerful for me. It, it was the first time I’d ever shown this work sort of to filmmakers, you know, to my colleagues who were, you know, also very accomplished and deeply involved in the field and had, you know, important things to say about the work and, you know, and just as you can expect, you know, with any kind of feedback, I didn’t agree with everything.

[00:20:42] Right. You know, but there was some feed. Yeah, there was some feedback that I really was, was excited to hear and interested to hear, and, and then it also kind of confirmed and affirmed some things that I was concerned about or that I’m noticing that, you know, we need to do better or differently or go deeper, get clearer on, and, and there’s basically like a thesis across the film that, you know, It has to, it has to work.

[00:21:07] Like it has to all make sense. So the six stories feel really like they’re part of the same larger story. And if I don’t nail that perfectly and artistically and in a way that feels immersive and seamless, like the movie will fail. Okay? Like I can own that as an artist. Like I know that in my heart of hearts.

[00:21:24] And so that is my challenge and opportunity is to really nail that and make it seamless. So you sit down and you are just for a hundred minutes. Completely with this. Right? And we’re not there yet, you know, we’re gonna get there. I, my goal right now is to really hit a milestone around Christmas. So in about three months, you know, I think we might be at a place where I could probably say that we maybe have, you know, almost nailed it.

[00:21:51] And that will put us on a different sort of schedule, right? If I really feel we’ve achieved that, you know, that moment of that seamlessness then I’ll be able to, I think, find the rest of the money to get the movie done because that mm-hmm. that is something I’ll be able to show people, like, Look at what this is and, and it will click for them, right?

[00:22:09] Yeah. Yeah, so it’s, it’s been an extremely creative year on that, in that way. We have continued to develop and kind of figure out how. Expand our impact work, right? So I have this impact enterprise around the film, uh, for your listeners to remind them. This is a kind of baked into how I work as a filmmaker, especially on my bigger social issue movies.

[00:22:32] Like I’ve done a lot of movies about a lot of different issues. And the idea is how do you take the movie off the screen and into communities to do good work with those communities that are already do in the field doing the work, right? So I didn’t just show up and make a movie about gifted people have been doing this work for years, right?

[00:22:49] And, you know, now I’ve been doing it for years and we’ve built these deep relationships, right? So you, you are a part of our advisory board, our partnership network. Uh, we have more than 36 international advisors. We have more than 80 partners around the world. Now, this is a remarkable number of groups that have joined with us.

[00:23:04] And by, by join, I mean they’ve paid to join. And I’m very touched by that. I’m inspired by that. I take that, take that investment very seriously. And every month there are more groups joining. And I think it shows that, that we have a kind of staying power to this thing. That we are more than a movie. We are a movie and we are supporting a movement around the movie.

[00:23:24] And that’s really the sort of guiding principle of The, G, Word Enterprise. So we’re a documentary and a social impact enterprise. And on the social impact side, you know, we do lots of different activities and we support other groups doing their activities. And it’s, it’s a very much a, you know, communal collective sort of en engagement process where we do lots of different stuff around, around, around the calendar year.

[00:23:47] And I think the pandemic was an interesting time to develop that strategy because everything was so virtual and we kinda bring together people in Zoom rooms and, and make magic happen in that format and feel connected. But actually we are connected, right? And, and in this beautifully global time, support these conversations about giftedness.

[00:24:05] And they’re happening everywhere. I mean, I, I mean, you hear from people everywhere. We hear from people everywhere. This is, this is really a global story. I always say from Switzerland to Singapore, like, we’re getting emails totally, you know, from all over the world. And it is so inspiring to connect with these people.

[00:24:22] So, so I’m out there constantly doing appearances, keynotes, conferences, talking the talk and walking the walk of, you know, telling people about The, G Word and the diversity, equity, inclusion sort of priorities of the movie and the movement around the movie. And I love doing that. You know, I love talking about this stuff, and I mean, it’s my job as a filmmaker about this kind of topic to become an expert.

[00:24:46] And dare I be so bold? I think I am. I mean, I’ll share with you a funny anecdote. I mean, I was on a meeting today where someone tried to school me about giftedness, and I was like, Girl, what do you, you, you didn’t do your due diligence on who you’re talking to, You know? I mean, I. I’m the gifted guy. Like, whatever, whatever that might mean for people who are out there listening, like, you know mm-hmm.

[00:25:06] I’ve spent, I mean, the first email in my inbox about this movie was in 2012. Like, this has been essentially a 10 year journey. Yeah. I spent four years deeply researching these topics to figure out like, what am I doing with this movie? Right. And yeah. So it’s, you know, you know, anyone can challenge me.

[00:25:24] Anyone can ask any question. You know, I write forwards for books. People ask me to, you know, I’m that guy now. Right. And I, and, but I do that on every movie, like every movie that I’m, that I’m involved in as a producer in a significant way. I have to become a subject matter expert. Like if I, if I can’t, like how can I be of service, Right?

[00:25:41] So, so whether it’s been post traumatic stress and mental health or LGBTQ issues in, in, in same-sex marriage, HIV and aids, organ donations, cystic fibrosis, I, I mean poverty. I’ve made movies about so many different topics and you can’t just do that without, you know, almost getting a PhD on the subject each time you undertake on.

[00:26:00] Right? And yeah, that’s a beautiful thing. I’m kind of, you know, I’m sort of a knowledge sponge, you know, likely gifted myself, you know, and I think it’s, you know, not surprising. I’m the one making the gifted movie. And, you know, for those who don’t know, I was in gifted programs when I was a kid and, and I was someone who was really well served by that, right?

[00:26:20] So, but I’ve also had a lot of my own personal trauma and when. Was developing the movie and I encountered all these traumatic narratives in spaces that were for the gifted. That’s when my light bulb went off, where it just clicked in that, you know what? I understand trauma and I’ve had, I had a positive experience in gifted education, but I’ve also can understand trauma.

[00:26:42] So I can be of service here. Right. I can be kind of a, I can be a connector, I can be an ambassador, I can, I can help people, you know, understand how the power of storytelling can be in service of advancing the cause of giftedness. And, and you know, it’s interesting. There’s the, the terms are always evolving.

[00:27:00] The words we use are always evolving. I’ve been doing this movie for significantly for seven years and, and I love the child The, G, Word, cuz it’s so open-ended. You know, it kind of, you know, it riffs on this idea of the F word, which is the word we’re not supposed to say out loud. Right. But it’s a troubling word.

[00:27:14] Right. The, G, Word. The G. Word is a troubling word, right? Oh yeah. Because gifted is full of baggage. We all, those of us who are involved know what all that means, right? But I love how people in the gifted communities, and that’s, that’s something that I sort of say broadly, you know, the gifted communities sort of work to figure out how to explain giftedness to other people.

[00:27:36] Right? And lately there’s this idea of giftedness expression or gifted expression. Yeah. And I really kinda like that phrase. Yeah. Because I feel like it’s sort of, you know, it leans into this idea. You know, giftedness can really look and smell and taste and behave like things that we may not necessarily notice or necessarily identify.

[00:27:55] And yeah, and that’s really, yeah, that’s the part of giftedness that I relate to is this almost, almost kind of things that exist in more liminal spaces that are hard to define, that are hard to explain. Like that’s where the really interesting stuff of our intelligences reside. And I think in the 21st century, like.

[00:28:15] The, the most interesting part of the phrase neurodiversity is the diversity part, right? And we live and work in this extremely diverse time where people are more diverse than not add in their brains, right? And there’s another, a aspect of diversity in the room, in our everyday experience, and this is why it behooves us to really contemplate in school settings and in work settings and in communal settings and in family settings.

[00:28:39] Like, like who’s in the room? What identity hats do they wear, and how does that affect their brain and their intelligence and how they, how they move through the world and interact with others. And, and I think more and more we have social movements and kind of communal movements that are open to at least the contemplation, that the brain is more complex than we ever really thought.

[00:29:00] And that this century is kind of trying to honor that and figure that out. And so the prospects for what. Like who can be included in the intelligence conversation are pretty exciting. Right. One thing that I have noticed a lot lately is that there has been a big push on the gifted sign. To actually conjoin, giftedness and neurodiversity from the gifted perspective.

[00:29:24] And the neurodiversity side. The neurodiversity side, like those folks who are focused solely on neurodiversity, they’re not all yet on board giftedness. Right. And including giftedness in the conversation. Mm-hmm. . And so we have work to do, right? We have work to do. We need, we need things that can sort of equalize, you know the dynamic.

[00:29:43] And that’s where I think a movie can actually be of service. Like we can actually, it’s good storytelling that with strong characters, powerful stories. That can keep people in the room and touch them differently than data, touch them differently than a white paper, touch them differently than, you know, making activist noise about something.

[00:30:00] We need activist noise. I’m an activist too, but, but it is my hope that the movie will sort of speak for itself purely at a level of powerful storytelling with strong characters. Because I, me interact with these characters like all throughout my day, all throughout my week when I work on this movie, doing the impact work, right?

[00:30:18] Uh, people like you who are so committed and so involved and so passionate about serving these folks and meeting them where they are and meeting their needs and. So, yeah, it’s, so that’s, the last year has really been interesting to that. And you know, I know we’re gonna talk about the Gtn Awareness Week context in a minute, but, you know, there’s been a big interesting shift in my perception this year that I want to telegraph before we talk about, you know, gtn Awareness Week.

[00:30:45] Was that mm-hmm. , A lot of the way that I’ve been talking about giftedness in the last few years has been in the frame of trauma and empowerment, right? So I give a lot of talks about this idea that there’s trauma and giftedness, right? And we have to combat that trauma with the other side of the coin, which is empowerment.

[00:31:04] So trauma on the one side of the coin, empowerment on the other. You can’t have one without the other, right? Mm-hmm. . That tra we can’t, like eviscerate and evaporate trauma, like trauma is gonna be there. Right. We, and trauma is not a lights on, lights off phenomenon, but empowerment can be a tool to sort of, you know, combat the trauma.

[00:31:23] That is something that I, that I’ve seen in my own life, and that is something that I’ve seen in others and it’s, it’s an important piece. And empowerment is kind of what like helps you to break out of trauma, to push through, right? But there is something that I’ve been landing on in the last number of months that has been missing in the conversation.

[00:31:42] And that word is joy, okay? Mm-hmm. . So I have this new concept of, it’s called the three legged stool. And that stool is propped up by trauma, empowerment, and joy. And I feel like what happens with joy is. That’s when it becomes a communal expression, right? The empowerment piece is an individual narrative, right?

[00:32:02] That’s how the individual pushes through their trauma. The joy is how that empowerment turns into something communal and that we can share with others, right? Mm-hmm. . And so, so that’s why this year to pivot into the, the sort of topic of the day is that our second annual GTN Awareness Week, our second annual gifted talented Neurodiverse Awareness Week, we’ve decided to lean into this idea of hashtag gifted joy.

[00:32:28] I think officially our tagline is bringing joy and equity into focus, right? Cause we’re always gonna be that equity. This movie really wants to own the equity piece, but can we have joy and equity side by side, right? Yeah. And, and for me, the joy is so paramount because. Why are we even in a community if we can’t show up for each other to have fun?

[00:32:47] Why are we even in a community if we, if all we’re showing up for is to, is to experience trauma, right? Yeah. If everything is just trauma, trauma, trauma, trauma, like, you know, shoot me now, you know, is kind of what I would like to say about that. Right? And it cannot all be trauma because if all we’re doing here is, is sort of talking about trauma and not other things it doesn’t invite people to be a part of a community.

[00:33:10] A community has to be about reinforcing positive things. The glass is half full. You know, we don’t have to be Pollyanna. There’s a lot of tough stuff in the room with this, with this stuff. But, but Joy has to be in the equation and Joy is not the purview of any one community. Everyone should be able to access it.

[00:33:28] So why not the gifted community? Like why can’t the gifted communities embrace joy and celebrate who we are and have like, have tools to come together, community to do that? And so, So I liken it, You know, I’m openly queer. That’s a huge part of who I am and always, always has been. I liken it to LGBTQ Pride month, right?

[00:33:49] Mm-hmm. , we in the queer communities, you know, we have, you know, every June, you know, we figured out we need a month, 11 months out of the year we’re targeted and we deal with homophobia and transphobia and all kinds of prejudice and stigma. Like we get to have one month, that’s our month, right? And we’ve been doing this, you know, pretty consistently since Stonewall in 1969, right?

[00:34:08] So more than, more than, you know, 50 years of pride. And now people expect it. It’s on the calendar, it’s there. And actually our straight allies love it. And they wanna participate, right? And we get to all be together and have a celebration. That is a point of pride. and what is it? What is pride, if not joy.

[00:34:29] Right? So hashtag gifted joy. Mm-hmm. come out the closet is gifted, come out of the closet as neurodiverse and come out of the closet is twice exceptional. Whatever your words are to describe yourself, like own them and be proud. And can’t we, can’t we do that one week a year? Don’t we deserve that? Right?

[00:34:49] We work so hard, 51 other weeks, like can’t we have one week where the gifted, talented neurodiverse narrative is centered and celebrated through the lens of joy. So that’s, that’s the second annual GTN awareness week. And it’s all about gifted, gifted joy.

[00:35:07] Sophia Elliott: I love that. A and as you’re talking through that there, I’m having these flashes, these images of like a gifted and neurodiverse Does Mardi Gras, do you know, like what, what would, what would that look like?

[00:35:26] As a, a gifted and neurodiverse kind of event of, of, given the complex identities within giftedness and neurodiverse folk already and some of the downright quirky deep dives and expressions of interest and joy within an already very quirky community. And I, I’m just kinda like, Oh my God, that would be totally amazing.

[00:35:51] Because I think, and I feel that one thing parents have gifted kids really struggle with is mm-hmm. the taboo around celebrating and expressing joy, Right. For this

[00:36:08] Marc Smolowitz: is exactly why we’re doing it. This is exactly why we’re doing, It’s exactly why we’re doing it. No, it’s exactly why we’re doing it. Yeah.

[00:36:16] Sophia Elliott: Yeah. A hundred percent really need to be debunked.

[00:36:21] Marc Smolowitz: I’m glad you used that word, because I feel like we should not have to apologize for celebrating, you know? Yeah. The diversity of our, of our kids, of our adults, however, that manifests. Right. And I, I don’t think it takes away from anyone else’s expression of theirs.

[00:36:37] Right. And I think as groups kind of self-organize into communities, the reason why people show up are to do those things, which are, uh, you know, to mark their life stories, to celebrate and to experience joy together And mm-hmm. and the gifted community deserves that too. Last year, GTN Awareness Week, the first installment, you know, in 2021.

[00:36:59] What we did was we, we delivered, you know, five days of free virtual programming. It was over nine hours of webinars. It was so amazing. We had more than 2000 people register from 16 countries. I mean, it was. Crazy successful. It really was beyond our expectations. The content, it lives on our website. The artful archive is there.

[00:37:21] People connect with it anytime. And what I love about what the content we did last year is that it’s, it’s a little bit like giftedness 1 0 1. It’s, I mean, it’s giftedness from through a diversity equity, inclusion lens 1 0 1, right? So, so if you’re a, if your listeners are out there and they’re interested in diversity, they totally get the equity piece.

[00:37:37] They wanna learn more about identity and giftedness. Like go to our gtn Awareness Week 2021 archive page on our website and, and watch those webinars. They’re evergreen, they’re star wart. They’ll work now as much as they did a year ago, and they’ll work in a year. Like they, they really have shelf life and I think they’re beautiful content and, and anyone can watch them and sort of see themselves in there.

[00:37:57] Right. This year I didn’t wanna do exactly the same thing. None of us on our advisory board in partnership wanted to do exactly the same thing. Like why repeat the exact same kind of programming. So, and given that we are opened up more as a society and the pandemic has kind of relaxed a little bit and there’s more in person events and hybrid approaches to events and different kinds of things happening, we decided to take a more distributed approach to our gtn Awareness Week offering.

[00:38:23] So we’re doing some producing of content, but we’re also having our advisors and partners produce content with us and for us, and we’re guiding them and supporting them. Right? So, for example, we have a number of schools, you know, that are part of our partnership network and some are doing events that week and are gonna actually have me show up virtually and I’m gonna just.

[00:38:42] You know, sort of zoom in and you know, kind of connect with young people or connect with the audience of teachers and students and kind of get them charged up to kind of have their own awareness moment. Right. And I think especially in schools where young people are, and if it is a gifted program within a school or a school that is, you know, committed to gifted and twice exceptional students, like so important for those kids to have a moment of kind of, you know, Expressing that expressing their giftedness through the lens of joy.

[00:39:11] Like, like how can, then there’s only upside in that happening, right? So mm-hmm. . So we wanna support that, you know, where and when we can. And I think Gtn Awareness Week is gonna become an experiment this year of a more distributed approach to supporting communities to prop up their own content, right? I mean, we’re a small bootstrap, you know, movie enterprise, you know, we, you know, we don’t have, you know, oodles and oodles of money.

[00:39:33] So we have to be very strategic about how we kind of create scaffolding and do the work and support others to be involved when engage with the work. And so I’m really excited by this model this year to see how it, how it plays out. And so the panels are not kind of gifted diversity, equity, inclusion 1 0 1.

[00:39:51] They’re actually very specialized and very much coming through the lens of people’s passions. Like what makes them passionate. So we have someone doing a panel on African American authors who focus on sci-fi. You know, we have someone doing a workshop on origami. You know, we have different types of workshops that are gonna tap into people’s passions, right?

[00:40:12] And one thing we know is that gifted people and through gifted expression, have all kinds of things that excite them, right? That give them joy. And that’s what I want people to be thinking about this year, that week, is what is your passion? What gives you joy? What gets you excited to wake up every day, go to work, go to school, be in a community, right?

[00:40:32] And bring your whole self to that experience. You know, sometimes we do those things for ourself and they can be kind of singular activities, but when they are also communal ones, man, that can be so joyous. Right. And, and really special when people can come together to sort of see and be seen with one another around a celebratory act.

[00:40:53] And, and that’s the, that’s the experiment this year. And so, so some of it we may not even witness cuz we won’t be in the room. Right. But it will happen and it will be, it will be beautiful, Right. Because it’s just from the mere fact that it’s happening,

[00:41:08] Sophia Elliott: it sounds absolutely amazing. I love the concept and I think it’s well overdue that within this community we actually get to celebrate what brings us joy and celebrate our expressions of giftedness.

[00:41:21] Because like you said before you have been deep diving into giftedness for many, many years and have amassed a great knowledge. And, and that is, What gifted and many neurodiverse folk do, they go into these areas of great passion and joy and amass great amounts of knowledge just because of the pure joy of it.

[00:41:43] And, and it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate that. I know for one, that my son will love the sci-fi , uh, webinar. We will be looking out for that line because he’s a huge fan. Absolutely. I love as we, as we all are in this family and there are many things, many interesting, quirky, eclectic things that bring us joy.

[00:42:06] And so we are going to do a bunch of podcasts next week. We’re focusing on that’s so happy play that gives, brings joy and that’s actually going to be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to it.

[00:42:20] Marc Smolowitz: That’s so amazing, so fabulous. Yeah, it’s great.

[00:42:23] Sophia Elliott: I think one thing I just wanna highlight for our listeners is that, The way I see it is you, you have, you’re actually bringing two gifts into the gifted community, this wonderful documentary, but also this gift of bringing us all together.

[00:42:41] Like you’ve mentions over 80 different partners within the network already who are committed enough to, to pay to be a part of that process. But also, you know, outside of that there are the people who are also connected. And I think you’ve done a wonderful service of unifying in that kind of, you know, gathering, which is that inevitable kind of activism and bringing of people together, which is a huge.

[00:43:13] Part of my personal value set is that just bringing people together. So, and I think that’s a huge gift that you would have le you know, bringing to the gifted community and have left us with. And so that was a big part of obviously why you guys started gifted talented Neurodiversity Awareness Week last year.

[00:43:34] Massive success. Very excited for it this year.

[00:43:38] how can people support The, G, Word, but also get involved in gifted, talented, and you’re a diversity awareness week next week and start to be a part of the movement and the conversation.

[00:43:57] Marc Smolowitz: Oh, well thank you. Well, first of all, go to The G Word Film dot com. That’s our website. And The G Word Film dot com is your hub for everything, right? So, so all the G chain awareness programming links will be there. You can register, you can sign up, you can connect. You should follow us on social. We’re at The G Word Film, and we’re on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook.

[00:44:18] We’re very active. I have an incredible co-producer named Danielle Hoke who does all of our social marketing, and she is right there. In real time monitoring all the important topics and sharing stories and, and you know, really, you know, lively and engaged with people you know, in real time. And we want you to be a part of our social media community.

[00:44:38] Yeah, there’s just, you know, that, that’s sort of, that’s, that’s the point of entry. And then if you are so moved and you like what you see you can make a donation of The G Word documentary. We, in the United States anyway, we operate as a 5 0 1 C3 nonprofit through, so we’re charity through a fiscal sponsor.

[00:44:55] So folks here in the US can get a tax deduction for their donation through the Center for in documentary. And that sometimes motivates people to wanna donate. I mean, we’ve had more than 700 donors make donations to this movie, so I’m, you know, take that very seriously. That’s a huge, you know, vote of confidence and trust in me as a filmmaker.

[00:45:15] And I’m really grateful for everyone’s, everyone’s donations. You know, we’ve had people donate from, you know, from. From $5 to $50,000. And so if you’re, you know, if you’re out there and you’re listening and you’re rich and you wanna be an executive producer on a movie, you know, send me an email and I’m happy to hear from you.

[00:45:31] We’ll, we’ll, we’ll talk deal, we’ll talk deal terms. But if you’re someone who just, you know, like, like we, we sell, you know, knowing that the culture of philanthropy is that, you know, people join organizations that they’re passionate about, you know, so I would be honored to have you and your listeners, you know, consider The G.

[00:45:47] Word be something that you would like to support this year among the many important causes that you probably support in your own life and in your own communities. We can’t do this alone. It takes a village to make a movie. It takes a village to support the movement around the movie. But go to our website, learn about our partners, 80 groups and many of them in your state or your town, or your, your country, doing great work where you can connect and learn more about what it means to be gifted.

[00:46:13] But yourself, your kids, your teachers, your, you know, all the stakeholders that are kind of in the room. Everybody touches our, our community. I mean, I’ll lead you with this today. Like no one movie can be all things to all people, and I would never pretend that, right. We’re gonna do our best job to make this as meaningful for as many people as we can.

[00:46:32] And it’s really the impact work around the movie that will sort of fill in the rest, right? The, G, Word doesn’t belong just to me and the people around me who are helping to make it. It belongs to everyone who has a connection to this, these themes, these stories, and these concepts, right? So when you see The, G, Word, you’re gonna see six stories that I’ve chosen that I think are powerful, but I hope it will hold up to you like a mirror and get you to think about this stuff in your own life and in your own way and in your own time.

[00:47:02] And if I’ve done my job and I’ve touched your heart, made you think maybe surprised and delighted you a little bit. You know when the lights come up in the movie theater or you look at each other, you know, at home when you know in the living room, when you’re done watching, like, you know, let me know what you think, you know, this is a virtuous act.

[00:47:19] We’re making art feedback is important. I don’t pretend to know everything. You know, I’m well studied and deeply researched, but I’m learning all the time. And The, G, Word Enterprise is exactly a reflection of that. Like, like, join us and be a part of the movement and we’d be glad to welcome you.

[00:47:35] Sophia Elliott: Well, I thoroughly look forward to the next chapter and getting across the line with that last bit.

[00:47:41] And like Mark said earlier, there’s a little bit more fundraising to do. We’re at the, what is it, The 24th mile in the marathon. So by all means, if you have the opportunity to support The, G, Word, Film, get across the line, that would be amazing. And in the meantime get involved in gifted talent in Neurodiversity Awareness Week.

[00:48:02] So much cool stuff. I’ll put all those links in the show notes so that you can find everything. And Mark, thank you for your time this evening. It’s been absolute delight to catch up again. I look forward to eventually coming back and you’re like, It’s out ,

[00:48:20] Marc Smolowitz: I can’t wait. And my dream of dreams is to join you down there in Australia.

[00:48:24] Screen the movie in person, we can celebrate together.

[00:48:27] Sophia Elliott: That is a wonderful dream. Let’s hold onto that cuz that’d be amazing. Will take care. Thank you for joining us this evening. I’m very excited about next week’s activities and all the exciting joy that we get to share

[00:48:40] Marc Smolowitz: next week. Hashtag gifted joy.

[00:48:44] Let’s do it. Hashtag Thanks so much, Sophia. Thank you.

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