Organization Spy Hop Productions
Executive Youth Producers: Alex Mack and Diana Montero
Production Mentor: Jack Allred
Executive Director: Rick Wray
Mother Superior is an award-winning personal documentary that explores methamphetamine addictive effects on middle class suburban women. It was created by youth filmmakers, Alex Mack and Diana Montero in collaboration with their Production Mentor, Jack Allred through Spy Hop, a youth media arts center in Salt Lake City, Utah. A work of outstanding cinematic achievement, Mother Superior as a youth media work, has garnered recognition from communities of film enthusiasts and social service professionals alike.
Spy Hop was co-founded by Rick Wray and Erik Dodd in 1999 and has since become a vital resource for the youth of Salt Lake and to the community at large. read more
Unique Practices and Approaches: Media Literacy and Meta-Critical Analysis
After viewing the entire documentary Mother Superior, one feels as if they have gone through an intense eye-opening journey. Structurally, the film is quite sophisticated and it becomes apparent by the end that each decision concerning composition, lighting or editing was arrived at with a strong dose of intention and purpose. To some extent, Mother Superior obeys the conventions of the documentary genre; yet it offers up a disarming array of innovative twists and surprises along the way. Only twenty-two minutes in length, Mother Superior's breadth and depth is staggering for the way it not only raises awareness about the little known phenomenon of Meth use among suburban women, but links it cause to a larger social and political framework of women's roles and identity in America.
According to Jack Allred, the Producer Mentor for the project, the quality of the documentary has a great deal to do with Spy Hop's pedagogical approach to media literacy. read more
Unique Practices and Approaches: Production/Mentorship Model
Spy Hop's rigorous approach to media literacy and meta-critical analysis is not the only factor at play in the making of Mother Superior. The organization places great value on the role that intergenerational collegiality plays, as well. Spy Hop refers to this as the Production/Mentorship model.
At the conclusion of the Pitch-Nic year-long workshop that produced Mother Superior, the staff of Spy Hop sat down to discuss the credits for the film as they prepared for the upcoming round of festival entries. Up to that point adult facilitators at Spy Hop were described by the term, "Producer." But as Allred explains, the word failed to acknowledge the full complexity of the role. "One could look at it like we are teachers- who stand in front of the class and give them a lecture on film history and say 'now go do it'. That is how most people view it. But in reality, it is so much more. That word mentor evokes a relationship and connection - there are no boundaries to it." As a result of their discussion, the staff of Spy Hop officially designated themselves as Production Mentors, a term that acknowledges their multiple roles as mediamakers, interpersonal counselors and learning guides.
"It is hard thing to put your finger on. Even while this process results in transformative experiences for youth and for me, it is a dynamic that is difficult to describe because it can't be replicated." Allred concludes, "You have to be deeply invested in the process." In the case of Spy Hop's Mentor/Producer model this investment is evidenced by a resonating documentary of cinematic and social import. Mother Superior exemplifies what is possible when Producer/Mentors commit to working individualistically with youth while seizing upon their own impulse and innate talent to make media. read more
Change and Impact
Spy Hop recommends the following youth media resources: