About Sara Zia Ebrahimi

Persian bohemian, indie films cheerleader, Social Media Specialist at American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Love to: write, read, sew, eat, cook, run.

What I’m watching these days: webseries “Whatever this is”

I’ve been watching lots of web series these days as I prep to shoot my own this fall in an effort to get a sense of narrative structures that do and don’t work in this format. I’ve been using this article “2013’s Six Drama Web Series You Must See” as my reference. This week I’ve been plowing through episodes of Whatever This Is. I’m hoping to blog my responses here once I’ve made it through. In the meantime I’m posting episode one for your viewing pleasure:


Pitch opportunity for short doc filmmakers to get $10k budget

The Camden International Film FestivalCIFF announced a partnership with AJ+, the new digital platform from Al Jazeera Media Network. Submissions are now open for a competition that will bring five independent filmmakers to the festival to pitch short doc projects to filmmakers and industry leaders. AJ+ will then commission up to five projects, providing them with $10,000 budgets. Deadline is August 25. More details here.

Things I learned at NAMAC: a list of apps, websites and articles for media makers

Me and some other workshop participants in Beth Kanter's (far right) crowdfunding workshop.

Me and some other workshop participants in Beth Kanter’s (far right) crowdfunding workshop.

The other week I had the chance to attend the ACM/NAMAC (that’s the Alliance for Community Media and the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture) conference here in Philadelphia.

But because there’s a few things competing for my attention these days–you know, the whole having a small baby thing and gearing up to shoot a webseries in September and things in the world exploding on social media and affecting my day job--I haven’t had time to write about it.

Instead of more detailed posts about each session I attended, here’s a quick and easy list of some highlighted resources I learned about there:

  • If you ever have to write grants for cultural work, the Cultural Data Project will give you hard data and figures on the revenue and audiences for arts and cultural work in your area.
  • The Harmony Institute works with social issue documentary filmmakers to analyze the impact of their films in shifting public opinion through some interesting scientific methodology. They also collaborated with BAVC to produce the Impact Playbook–available for free download–which summarizes best practices for media makers for social change to understand the impact of their work. Also useful for grant writing!
  • This Storymaker app  provides lessons as well as template overlays that help people learn to take good photos and get quality interviews, with their phones. Neat.
  • In the community arts world the term “creative placemaking” is thrown around a lot these days. A good place to start with understanding it is Creative Placemaking: the politics of belonging and disbelonging”
  • Malkia A. Cyril, director of the Center for Media Justice, is so on point with an analysis of the role of media in social justice and you should see Malkia speak if you ever have a chance
  • If you want to geek out using Arduino this is a cool sitei as is this. A panelist in the open source workshop had wearables she made using conductive thread and electronic code that got me excited for a possibility to merge my love of sewing with tech geekery.
  • And, I got to finally meet my social media guru Beth Kanter in person for the first time! I won her book in the workshop, but gave it away to someone from another org who really really wanted it.

Free workshop: Twitter for artists


I’m leading a workshop at the Leeway Foundation on August 20th. The event is free and open to the public, although you must RSVP to hold a spot–please help spread the word!

Twitter can be a great way to promote yourself as an artist, gain momentum around your social change project, and connect with new and different audiences. Twitter for Artists, is a hands-on technical training to get you started. Participants will learn the anatomy of a “tweet”, how to set up a profile, build followers and use lists to target journalists, fellow artists, and other specific communities. A personal laptop or tablet device is needed to participate.

Call for Submissions: Sexuality in the Middle East & North Africa

10268725_10152413692452518_5728592011980195161_nMuftah is putting together a Special Collection of articles exploring gender and sexual variance across the Arab and Muslim worlds and their diaspora communities. They are seeking well-written, interesting submissions of 1000 to 2000 words exploring the following topics:

  • transgender issues in the Arab and Muslim world, including health, surgical access, compulsory procedures, and legal status
  • migrant rights and the intersections of homophobia and xenophobia
  • Islam and new theologies of sexuality
  • Islamic feminism and the inclusion / exclusion of LGBTQ movements
  • the politicization and criminalization of nonnormative sexualities
  • “pinkwashing,” hegemonic queer cultures, and homonationalism as Islamophobia

This Special Collection will broaden popular, simplistic discourses about sexuality, gender, and feminism in the MENA region. They are particularly interested in articles which eschew Western conceptualizations of “LGBTQ” movements, and present local understandings of gender and sexuality in their own terms.

Submissions are due July 31, 2014.

Please email articles to submissions@muftah.org.