PORT TOWNSEND — When George Marie watched Firozeh Darabi’s short video, she was captivated.
“It’s about her learning as a child to make origami birds; it sounds a little bit boring,” until you see it, said Marie, the manager of writing programs at Centrum.
“It’s really a gorgeous little film,” she said, and exactly the type of storytelling to be explored in a free online presentation Centrum will offer Saturday afternoon.
“Speaking into the Dark: A Panel Discussion on Digital Storytelling,” features Darabi and two other storytellers, Perrin Kerns and Cameron Scott, starting at 4 p.m. via Zoom.
To sign up and receive the log-in details, go to Centrum.org and select “Writers Events” from the Writing menu at the top left of the page.
Digital storytelling, as defined in the workshop, is any narrative video of three minutes or less. Much is possible in this tight frame, through live video, photographs, the Ken Burns effect, music and voice — all of which bring a story to vivid life.
A digital story “does have a writerly aspect to it, and is driven by narrative,” Marie said, unlike many social-media videos.
Lots of TikTok posts, for example, are dance videos, “which is fine. We need that,” she added.
At the same time, even the quickest clip can be a comic story or little drama, Marie said.
Darabi’s work illustrates how short stories on video can be rich with emotion, using voice and visuals to flesh out a written piece.
Darabi, Scott and Kerns will show examples during Saturday’s panel, which is geared toward educators and storytellers of all ages.
The presentation is a public part of Centrum’s latest high school writers’ workshop meeting this month. Its focus is using digital means to transform prose, poetry — or both — into a short narrative movie.
Another free youth writing workshop will open up this spring, Marie said, while the start date is to be announced via Centrum.org.
Titled “Hold Your Doubt Like Gold,” the four-week course features poet and musician MOsley WOtta and will focus on poetry writing.
Another free, online public presentation will come with this workshop, and information about it and the many other writing programs will be posted on Centrum’s website.
In this Saturday’s panel, the three presenters are from Oregon: Kerns, who has won awards for her documentary and short films; Scott, a poet, author and seventh- through 12th-grade English language arts teacher, and Darabi, who studied with Kerns at the now-closed Marylhurst University.
Born and raised in Iran, Darabi has lived in the United States for 20 years and sees short videos as a powerful tool for non-English-speaking people to tell their stories. She’s also used digital storytelling to help students get into college, said Marie, who got to know Darabi when both women were at Marylhurst.
On Saturday, “she’s going to talk about reshaping a college resume,” using video.
These offerings, Marie noted, are free thanks to support from a variety of sponsors, from Humanities Washington and the Port Gamble Enterprise to the Squamish Foundation and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]