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Lights, Camera, Action: Learning the Art of Filmmaking in an Inclusive Environment at TheCIL

In a crowded conference room at Ed Roberts Campus, the audience take their seats. This semester's Inclusive Media Arts class is set to debut their latest project to a packed house. Tony, a former student and this semester's teaching assistant, leads the crowd in chanting "Lights, Camera, Action!"

The Berkeley Adult School's Inclusive Media Arts Class was back for its third semester with instructor Ashley Saks. Students from Oakland Unified School District and other Bay Area locations were invited to join the class, hosted at TheCIL Berkeley, to learn about the entire filmmaking process, from concept to script to final product. This semester’s project: remaking the music video for the song “Girls Like You” by Maroon 5 and Cardi B.

“One of the first classes, we got to know each other. We talked about what kind of music we’re interested in, what ideas we’re interested in, and we have this huge brainstorm,” explained Saks.

We wanted something with a positive message and rhythm that we could dance to. Tony suggested the song, and we just loved it and had so much fun with it.” Inspired by the real music video, the student's video featured Sophie, one of the class’s students, filling the role of lead singer. The students in the music video wore T-shirts with strong statements, like “Love is Love,” “I Will Always Stand Up For You,” and TheCIL’s “Be Your Own Normal". During the Q&A period following the premiere, the students were asked if there was a particular moment in this class that they remember as being the most fun. Sophie said, “my favorite part was the singing and the dancing.”

"Mine was the video shoot," Henry, a second-year student said.

When asked how they achieved the steady motion of the camera, another student, Simon, explained, “We taped the small camera to the chair, and we just rolled the chair around.” Last semester, the Inclusive Media Arts class made a documentary project about dance, which was also shown at the premiere. It features Anne Marsen, a professional dancer from Colorado who was featured in the music video "Girl Walk // All Day."

The class interviewed her via Skype, then danced together on-screen, while hundreds of miles apart. Last year, the class produced a remake of the music video "Intergalactic" by the Beastie Boys.Tony, The Teaching Assistant: “Tony is an exemplary student with so much talent and leadership skills. I asked him to TA this semester and he gladly accepted.

At the premiere, Saks explained, "this is a really fun, community-based class where we bring in people from the community to collaborate with. Photo: Students in the Media Arts class use a desk chair as a makeshift dolly while shooting the music video for "girls Like You".He's been a huge help, a role model and mentor for students and the lead choreographer on our projects from the beginning!” - Ashley Saks, Instructor. Photo: Tony dancing at the video premiere.

So, it's not only for individuals with disabilities, but it's for anyone to participate. You’ll see a lot of people in this project that were not in our class. And that is a really big, important piece of why we make this such an inclusive experience for folks. It's to give everyone a voice here, to give everyone the opportunity to share their talents, to learn new things, behind the scenes or on camera if they're comfortable with that, and to push their comfort level and to try new things. That's all a part of Inclusive Media Arts.”

Watch the "Girls Like You" music video, the "Let's Get Happy" dance documentary, and last year's "Intergalactic" project. Get more info about the Inclusive Media Arts class by following @InclusiveMediaArts on Instagram, visiting, or email Ashley Saks at


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