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Virtual Adventures in Visual Storytelling

Starts February 4

(For participants 55+)
10 sessions: Fridays, February 4-April 8, 10:00 am-12:00 pm

In this virtual class open to 55+ students of all levels, participants will play with a variety of mixed media methods, including cartooning, writing, drawing, and filmmaking to create visual stories. Students will be encouraged to harness their creativity and curiosity working on projects each week individually, in small partnerships, and as a full group. No previous videomaking, writing, or drawing experience required.

Participants meet weekly on Zoom and work interactively in the COVID-safe space of their own homes. All materials to engage in activities are provided as weekly surprise packages delivered to your door!

Each student will use their own smartphone, tablet, or video camera and learn visual storytelling techniques to share ideas and work with one another. This is not a traditional filmmaking course, but rather uses creative tools and exercises to dig into memories, personal experiences, and unusual visual story making techniques. This approach is patterned after the work of such artists as Lynda Barry and explores non-traditional ways of finding the “aliveness” of images and stories. The class is highly experiential and will result in multiple finished pieces. Ultimately, these creative works will become a final visual group project to share with an audience.

The class provides a space for deep thought, reflection, and laughter to foster connections and inform our work by way of open exploration of meaningful topics including the changes in today’s world, our challenges and dreams, our wisdom and resilience, and the nature of love, hope, and curiosity. We’ll touch on the real and the imagined, our memories, our questions, our humor, our demons, and more to share something wonderful with one another, family, and friends. Sharing of projects on our Stories 55 Vimeo channel will be encouraged as well.

One week following the final class session we’ll have a virtual screening of a portion of the work we create to celebrate and reflect on the experience and process. Join us for this exciting virtual adventure!

Equipment, Materials & More

  • Participation in this online course requires that you use the free Zoom cloud-based video conferencing service. For optimal performance it is highly recommended that you install Zoom on your computer rather than running it from a web browser. A few days prior to the class start date we’ll e-mail you the link to access class sessions. Your instructor will be provided a roster to take attendance. Click here for a tutorial on how to join a Zoom meeting and much more. 
  • You will use your own computer and need an email account to receive materials.
  • You will use your own smartphones, tablets, or cameras to create your projects. No special equipment is needed. Instructors will work with you to edit your projects. It is not necessary to have any editing experience. If you want to edit, we can point you in the right direction.
  • Tuition includes a $25 materials fee.
  • Recommended but not required is a book on artistic creation, What It Is by Lynda Barry, which can be purchased on Amazon.com.

NOTE: Participation in this online course requires that you use the free Zoom cloud-based video conferencing service. For optimal performance it is recommended that you install Zoom on your computer rather than running it from a web browser. We’ll e-mail you a course reminder and Zoom link a few days prior to the first session. Click here for a Zoom tutorial.

Price: $65 | $40 low-income (prices include course materials). A limited number of scholarships available – please contact FilmNorth’s Education Director.

As a child, Barbara Wiener (teaching artist) first wanted to be an astronaut but discovered that motion sickness would be a hindrance to successful completion of the training. Instead, she found herself drawn to telling the stories of the world around her. Barbara believes human beings are hardwired as a species to respond to stories and images in emotional ways. That means our modern media has significant influence to shape how we see ourselves and others. She believes sharing visual stories has the power to create the world we want to live in. That’s where making films comes in.

Barbara’s career in film and television and teaching has spanned 32 years. She was a senior and executive producer for 14 years at Twin Cities Public Television and has completed many independent feature documentaries since that time. Her arts and cultural documentary and performance work has received many awards including six Midwest Emmys and a Ciné Golden Eagle for her documentary film, Ida’s Story. Her work been seen in broadcast and screenings around the world, including the Walker Art Center’s Women with Vision, the New York International Film Festival, Chicago Silver Screen Film Festival, Women in the Director’s Chair, Denver Film Festival, and the Sundance Film Festival, which featured a piece called Curious George Goes to Hell made with storyteller Kevin Kling.

In 2000 Barbara founded TVbyGIRLS, a nonprofit that collaborates with and mentors teen girls using the tools of filmmaking to develop critical thinking, leadership, and social change film work. Films made by collaborations with girls have been seen by audiences around the world and been awarded with four Telly Awards and a nomination for a student Emmy award. TVbyGIRLS is presently working on developing a compassion-building program with films for use by teachers, parents, and youth leadership groups, using new VR technology.

Barbara also teaches college students to think about films and our society at North Hennepin Community College and does work with AJ+, Zinc Video, and Pear Video in Shanghai, China. She is currently working on a short film about a Keiseki restaurant in Minneapolis, a series of portraits of visual artists for Inclusivi-tee, and a film on a family’s journey through their dad’s transgender process.

Leah Gross (teaching assistant) is a screenwriter and visual artist from Minneapolis. She holds a BFA in Dramatic Writing from New York University, where she received the Television Writing Award at Fusion Film Festival for her comedy pilot Nick and Nikki. In addition to developing her own work, Leah has worked in film and TV development for such companies as HBO and Lionsgate. Most recently, she entered the Agent Trainee program at United Talent Agency. Leah is passionate about helping people from all backgrounds access their innate creativity and ingenuity.

Class Registration Cancellation Policy

  • For those wishing to cancel a registration prior to the first class session, your class fee will be refunded minus a $5 administrative fee. As of a class start date, no refunds or credits/exchanges will be given.



Stories 55 is made possible through funding by E.A. Michelson Philanthropy.





February 4, 2022 @ 10:00 am
April 8, 2022 @ 12:00 pm
Event Category:


Barbara Wiener
Registration Deadline
January 28
Maximum Enrollment
Class count or Info
10 sessions: Fridays, February 4-April 8, 10:00 am-12:00 pm