All Things T

Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media STEM Panel

In All Things T, Events, Featured, Industry Events, Latest, Press | on July, 01, 2014 | by

It’s not everyday that I’m asked to be on a panel at Google that GEENA DAVIS is hosting, especially when that panel has everything to do with the work that I’m doing at Scirens! Thanks to Annie Tedesco, the talented actress and star of GRANITE FLATS, I was invited to join Geena Davis’ Institute for Gender in Media panel: ‘Women Pioneers in a Galaxy Far Far Away — How can media encourage women to pursue careers in science?’ YES! This is one of our long term goals at Scirens: to create mainstream entertainment infused with science story lines and multi-dimensional characters with STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) careers.  We eagerly align with GDIGM’s belief “If she can see it, she can be it”.

Google Panel Photo

 

For those of you who don’t know the work that GDIGM is doing, it was formed by Ms. Davis after she noticed the lack of female characters in her children’s family entertainment… cut to today, the Institute has commissioned over 12 research studies that reveal ‘decisive evidence of gender inequality and rampant stereotyping in film and television…’ even in family entertainment. I strongly suggest that you dive into the reports — the data it is staggering. An example: ‘From 2006 to 2009, not one female character was depicted in G-rated family films in the field of medical science, as a business leader, in law, or politics. In these films, 80.5% of all working characters are male and 19.5% are female, which is a contrast to real world statistics, where women comprise 50% of the workforce.’  

Ms. Davis uses her public position to share this data with Hollywood executives to push for change. She also started hosting membership driven ‘Salons’ where these topics could be discussed in a panel format in front of an audience. And that’s where I came in! I was lucky enough to join Andrea Fernandez of Goldieblox, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato, writer/ show runner Jaime Paglia, Amazon studios exec Christina Reynolds, ‘Person of Interest’ writer Amanda Segal, and Laura Tenebaum of JPL/ NASA. And our moderator was Megan Smith of Google X labs. Yes — such an inspiring group.

The discussion was a fascinating one — how do we use our place in Hollywood and media to push forth more female characters with STEM careers? It sounds simple but it’s not. Our discussion revealed the continued difficulty of being a female within the traditional framework of both Hollywood and NASA/Medicine — it’s still (mostly) an ‘old boys club’, but our discussion also pointed out how the emergence of strong new media platforms is opening doors to tell new stories. We screened the trailer for the new Amazon children series called ANNEDROIDS and it blew me away with its science elements and stereotype breaking characters. If ANNEDROIDS is any example of what future programming can be, the future is bright. (And a big thank you to Madeline di Nonno and Elizabeth Kilpatrick of GDIGM for organizing the event).

I aim to write a longer blog post on Operation BABE/ All Things T to examine this topic, but in the meantime, head over to the GDIGM site and check out all the fantastic things they are doing… AND… pay attention to the gender (and ethnic) landscape of the entertainment you are watching. You’ll be surprised what you see.

panel that changed my life for the better

Writing for Ms. In The Biz

In All Things T, Featured, Latest, Press | on October, 22, 2013 | by

Can you believe it’s almost November?? Where has this year gone!?

I hope 2013 has been a creatively fulfilling one for you as it has for me. Before the holiday season hits, I wanted to draw focus to the Women in Entertainment site that I have been writing for for the past 6 months: MS. IN THE BIZ.

My friend and multi-hyphenate extraordinaire Helenna Santos Levy founded the site and has populated it with posts from extraordinary women. There are guest posts from successful actresses/ directors Brea Grant and Mena Suvari and a host of posts about the industry, fashion, webseries, health, social media and transmedia. My posts have more of a philosophical/ inspirational bent to them, often with a sprinkling of science, like ‘How To Be Your Own MacGyver’ or my ‘Spark Your Soul/Brain’ series. You can check them all out HERE. It’s been fantastic for my crazy erratic Gemini brain to have a regular deadline to hit!  And it’s been wonderful to be a part of such an inspirational community.

I hope you can support the site and the women who contribute to it!

Will be reposting some of my articles here as well — hope you enjoy.

– Taryn

 

T & Her Brain #5

In All Things T, Featured, Latest | on February, 26, 2013 | by

Slowly but surely I’ve been adding posts over at my new Tumblr site All Things T, most of them ‘T & Her Brain’ posts, which if you missed, is my attempt to curate and comment on a handful of science, philosophy, future tech and generally inspiring articles that have affected me and influenced my work. In this spirit of the Oscars, my latest list is loosely based around the theme of the ‘Creative Narrative’. Hope you enjoy and please follow my tumblr account(s) so you know when the newest posts are live.

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Greetings fellow journeymen. It’s Saturday and I’m at one of my favorite places, in front of my computer. I’m knee deep in a spec pilot script and research for a feature script that I’m about to start outlining, but luckily my research has taken me to many a wondrous site where I have stumbled upon a post or a video that has inspired me, jump started a new idea, or simply filled me with joy. As my life is all about ‘story’, whether writing it or acting in it, I’ve picked four articles and videos that I’ve found this week to touch upon the general theme of THE CREATIVE NARRATIVE… who are we as storytellers in this year 2013, how did we get here, and why is a shared narrative important. With it being Oscar weekend, it is an especially relevant topic. I hope you enjoy. 

 

1.  TED Salon: The Shared Wonder of Film by Beeban Kidron.

It was a tweet to a post to another post that lead me to this amazing TED Salon Talk filmed in London. I’ve watch fit three times already. Beeban Kidron is a director known for the 2nd BRIDGET JONES movie but also co-founded FILMCLUB, a now very popular film program for school children in the UK.  The genesis of this program was the topic of this video: what is the narrative that we are imparting to our youth? Why are we not using great films to educate and inspire them when parables and stories have been the unifying element of community throughout history? (“we honor reading, why not honor watching”). She argues (with the most sublime of words) that championing the films where story, not sensation, is king, can influence and help this fragmented generation of children… and she has the proof from her program. What this video really did, for me at least, was articulate my deep seeded belief that filmmaking is Important (and yes I mean with a capital I). A great film has the power to rewire your brain, challenge your beliefs, enrich your soul and tie us to our fellow man through a shared experience, both relating to the characters on screen and as an audience member watching it.  Every element of this video made me proud to be involved in storytelling and reminded me of those seminal moments when I fell in love with film.

2.  The Art of Screenwriting: An Interview with Billy Wilder. The Paris Review, Spring, 1996.

I could get lost for days in the archives of The Paris Review. In pursuing work as a writer but never having had ‘formal training’ (thus a fiery passion to self educate), I consume as much content about writing and writers as my brain will allow. Billy Wilder is an American cinematic icon but I confess to not knowing his background and work as well as I might. His insights as a writer within the studio system, and his frank discussion on the occasions that lead him to directing are fascinating. And I absolutely loved his thoughts on actors and was inspired by his anecdotes of Jack Lemmon; someone who was both naturally gifted and who worked hard… Someone who was a lot like Billy Wilder.

3. VIDEO: ‘Our Brain in the Cloud’ by Ray Kurzweil. BigThink.com

I consider myself an amateur futurist. I am constantly living in the future, at least my imagination is. And for us futurists, Ray Kurzweil is our bold leader. This video articulated my passion for our ability to better ourselves through the information and connections available to us on the web (I’ve discussed this topic before). Mr. Kurzweil takes this a step further and points to the power of our collective brain in the cloud. He points to our smart device not as a handheld phone and internet, but as a gateway. Once that connectivity is fused into our body and access to this cloud of information is immediate, what growth will we see creatively? For many people, it is a scary thought, but for me, I marvel at what a connected future could bring. (Click above for video – wouldn’t embed).

4. ‘The Evolution of Creativity’ by Heather Pringle. Scientific American, March 2013.

Which leads us to a fascinating article which just came out on the evolution of the creative mind. Current research has now pushed back the date of ‘creative’ Homo Sapiens to around 75000 BC (meaning they constructed weapons, tools and even insect repellant bedding) This date is nearly 35000 years earlier than had been previously reported, where research pointed to the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic period 40000 years ago when there was an apparent ‘creative ‘big bang’ due to an evolutionary mutation. But new digs have suggested otherwise.  This article dives into the use of symbols and language, the size of our ancestors brains and how the increased size of the H.S. brain and the development of the pre frontal cortex allowed for free association. Once our ancestors didn’t have to worry so much about survival and staying in an analytical state, they were more free to reside in this nebula of creative ideas called the associative state. A point of research that blew my mind, and tied back to the video above, was how the larger the hunter gather group was, the greater the chance that one member would dream up an idea to advance their technology. Talk about relevance to our explosion of new ideas and technology today, where our hunter/ gather group is the entire connected world.

5. Last but not least, I wanted to give a shoutout to Phil Plait for his new science and technology webseries TWIST, a great recap of the week’s scitech news. And if you haven’t already heard, the new Google Glass is up for beta testing to some lucky people who Tweet or Google+ why they should get this game changing tech (with a $1500 price tag) . The future is here, just jump on board.

Have an inspired weekend and feel free to tweet me questions or thoughts at @tarynoneill! 

xo T

Once More, With Feeling…

In All Things T | on October, 11, 2012 | by

**This post was originally published on my EQAL ‘Umbrella’ site in the spring of 2010, which has since been shut down.**

 

While stuck on the rain soaked 405 an hour ago, a breaking news storypopped into my iPhone inbox: ‘Avatar’ is now the ‘king of the worldwide box office’. It took just over a month to ‘sink’ that other mammoth box office champ ‘Titanic’; both films, of course, conceived of and realized by James Cameron. Wow, good day for him. Yes, that is an understatement (and no, I don’t want to think what stratosphere his ego now resides in). It got me thinking though, as I navigated around inexperienced rain drivers, what really propelled these two films to the pinnacle of mass consumption. Was it simply the awe-inspiring 3-D of Avatar and CGI of Titanic. The obvious answer would be yes, those elements were certainly instrumental to the initial draw of the films. But what if those pioneering hi-tech elements were intrinsic to a more primal reaction shared by the masses? What if those technically advanced films just made people feel more?

The stories, as we all know, are recycled: derivatives of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘David and Goliath’, man against nature, man against machine; we’ve all seen the mash-up of the Avatar voiceover on the Pocahontas trailer. Avatar and Titanic couldn’t be more basic in their character archetypes and narratives. But what moved so many millions of people to go to the theatre and then go again, was that those tried and true love stories were presented in an immersive, yet awe inspiring fashion that compelled our complex neuro web to make us feel something new. In both cases we had NEVER seen that type of spectacle before in our lives.  Each movie may have told only a simple, universal love story, but it was nestled within a very un-simple, foreign yet believably tangible landscape. Hmmm. As human beings, are we becoming so desensitized to filmed entertainment that we need huge advances in technology to have the story affect our primal center for emotion? Do we need tech to feel more human?

I read a fascinating article in Wired the other day (what else is new) about a new company in San Diego called MindSign Neuromarketing. It uses brain scans to pin point when the amydala (the center for primal emotions and emotionally based memories) and other key regions of the brain activate in response to viewings of movies and trailers (apparently Jerry Bruckheimer used this fMRI technique to fine tune his last Pirates of the Caribbean trailer).  As I do quite a bit of neuro-research for different projects that I’m working on, I found this fascinating, yet very expected.  If a studio can craft a trailer that creates peak experiences in your emotional center, whether you want it to or not, they have you hooked. With regards to the draw of Avatar, mapping neuro responses to theatrical stimuli is the other side of the coin. What patterns will be discovered? What level of stimuli will we need to get our next ‘hit’?

This topic is obviously a huge one and has far reaching ramifications, definitely beyond simple consumption of movies. The advent of Twitter and Facebook made us feel more connected; when someone adds you as a friend or replies to a tweet, the pleasure center of the brain activates (the folks at Twitter know this or why would they have put an exclamation mark after their email alert that someone new is following you!). But now these social media platforms are part of the more traditional landscape and in becoming part of the norm, what is them the future technology that will, for lack of a better phrase, give us our new hit of happy? It also brings forth something that I struggle with as a fledgling sci fi writer. The science and the fiction is important and the delicately constructed web that I weave to create my unique world is paramount to the genre, but the story has to be elevated by the it, not detracted (which is why I think most scifi films do poorly at the box office, District 9 being an exception for the obvious reason in that it connected on an emotional level).

I have so many more thoughts on these nebulous issues as I delve into what the future means to me and the technology I think that will define it, but I have to end this post for now.  I would love to hear your thoughts. In the mean time, I’m going to try to remember that a simple story, one that connects on a human level with the masses, is not something to discount…it just has to find it’s way through our overloaded neural pathways and into our well-protected hearts.

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Welcome

Welcome to my site! My name is Taryn and I'm an actress, writer, new media producer, and co-founder of science advocacy group Scirens . I play 'June Sanders' on the BYUTV series GRANITE FLATS and can be seen on numerous digital and TV series and commercials. I began producing in 2007 with the scifi web series After Judgment and am now in the midst of creating and writing numerous web and TV projects. Being an avid storyteller, a scifi geek and science nerd, I am passionate about creating story worlds that reflect the paradigm shifting times we are living in with the aim to also increase science literacy. Please check out my main blog: Operation BABE as well as my column over at Women in Entertainment site MS. IN THE BIZ. For more about me, click on the 'About Taryn' tab and follow me on twitter for my daily musings and links. Consider this your portal into my creative world.