Sandy Stone Documentary & National Women’s Hall of Fame Induction


I (joey) had the pleasure of helping Girl Island‘s Austin, TX shoot for the Sandy Stone documentary. I worked with Director Marji Vecchio and Danielle Holke to develop a production crew for the shoot in addition to their DP, Shuling Yong. Through the Convergent Media network I was able to get 3 generations of film makers to come and help! Alazar Asrat, graduate of the A&M Media & Gaming Lab student and now co-owner of 2am Productions, UIW Convergent Media graduate Than Niles of Big Ballon Productions and UT Professor Emeritus Andrew Garrison who is an independent filmmaker. We were rounded out by Daniel Leonard, key grip of the shoot based out of Austin. The interview space was made possible by Fredrick Luis Aldama, Director of the LatinX Pop Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. The space was amazing!

Over the multi day shoot I had the helped out with the production by providing equipment and my own services.

I also had the privilege of being interviewed as part of the documentary, I figured I should at least get a 1 second cameo if all goes well.

A second location at a community house space was hosted by Shanta Stevens in Northeast Austin where b-roll and additional interviews were conducted.

The whole experience really took me back, while it was a lot of work, I got to see a lot of Sandy and catch up and jojo, my son got to see her as well, which he had met her when he was 1 year old, so this definitely a chance for him to have a memorable interaction, or at least one for myself to get more photos of.

It was also a time that caused me to reflect on my time and experience with the ACTLab, the Convergent Media Collective and the now the Media & Gaming Lab.

I got to hear ACTLabber’s, aka past ACTLab students/community members, talk about the good ol days, the experiences and the programs they would go on to participate in. It also made me sad because so many reflected on the ACTLab as if nothing was left of it. Which is understandable from their point of view, the program ended in 2010 when I graduated and Sandy retired and became professor Emeritus from the University of Texas at Austin.

However, I assert that ACTLab spirit is still alive and being taught about and learned about, for three generations now, Sandy, myself and now Jonathan Guajardo, there have been programs in place embodying the ACTLab spirit and pedagogical approach to community building through Making Stuff, Taking Risks and Being Awesome, aka the tenets of the ACTLab.

I will say it was inspiring to hear what all the ACTLabber’s have been up to and what they are doing now. Vernon Reed, Honoria Starbuck and Heather Kelly are all teaching and carrying the spirit of the ACTLab with them. And of course it was great to reconnect with so many ACTLabbers, they are all up to such cool stuff. Rich MacKinnon has done so many ventures since leaving the ACTLab and one of his latest is just amazing to me, the Music City PrEP Clinic, an amazing medical resource for Tennessee. Jon Lebkowsky is immersed in the Austin tech scene with his Plutopia Network and support of EFF Austin. Brandon Wiley Ph.D.’s latest venture is Operator Foundation. “Operator makes useable tools to help people around the world with censorship, security, and privacy.” It was cool to see so many people have different projects and initiatives going on that are public good projects and immersed in technology, art and activism. I could go on and on.

A fun side note is that whenever I make it out to Austin, I always make an effort to go see some car folks and on this one I was able to take jojo to go see Zohair at Boost Logic and see some high end builds. A great moment for sure!

After the shoot, I will admit I was tired and worn out, I had done a lot of driving back and forth from Austin to Bryan, TX where we live. But I wanted to see Sandy more, so I traveled a couple times more, one time bringing William Connor Ph.D., TAMU PVFA Faculty, who I have been collaborating with for the past year. It was so great to get to see them interact and also watch Will and Knut Graf jam on eurorack synths and experimental instruments in general.

On another trip we (Corina, jojo and I) got BBQ with Honoria, Knut and Sandy, which was wonderful.

This shoot is something I will never forget and something I want documented here on the Convergent Media Collective website for others to hear about and know how much personal lineage has gone into preserving and upholding all that Sandy has contributed to rethinking how we learn at the collegiate level. How to build authentic community. How a community can build something greater than any single person and offer so much in so many different spaces when all are not expected to be the same, where difference is celebrated together. The ACTLab was not always run this way, but it has evolved over time and it is exciting to see where it will go next.

I think an ACTLab Conference 2024 or 2025 is in the cards for sure!

Last but not least, thank you Marji Vecchio for spear heading this whole effort, without your commitment to getting Sandy’s story told, none of this would have happened. You facilitated an amazing TAZ!

National Women’s Hall of Fame Induction

And finally, a HUGE congratulations to Sandy for being inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, an amazing accomplishment! Check out the video!

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