Artist Statement

As a filmmaker, I use digital media to tell stories that reflect and uplift the people who encounter them. These stories are drawn from everyday life to illuminate the tenacity of the human spirit and it’s triumph over adversity.

I appreciate the opportunity to give people a voice and have their stories told through film. In particular, so few films are about children and their accomplishments, goals, ideas and feelings. These films won awards and traveled to numerous film festivals. Three of my films screened to hundreds of children in the Santa Barbara area through a program called “Community of Respect.” The films were used as a medium to help children learn about risk taking, equality and non-discrimination.

In my film Iron Boy, I reveal the story of a 9-year-old boy who, remarkably at his age has participated and competed in 45 triathlons. He shares the challenges he faces as one of the youngest and most successful triathletes in the world. In First and Ten, the main character, a 10-year-old girl, spent two years in court fighting for the right to play football-A true pioneer for girls and women’s sports.

I explore these same themes on a larger scale in Roadside Santa by using a 20 ft oversized tall figure of Santa as a vehicle for exploring issues of community identity in the culturally and economically disparate communities of Carpinteria and Nyeland Acres. Beginning with Santa’s roots as a roadside attraction in postwar Carpinteria to its present incarnation as a symbol of community identity for the Hispanic neighborhood of Nyeland Acres.

Biography

Santa Barbara filmmaker, Jody Nelson brings 20 years of teaching and 10 years of media experience to her filmmaking.  Nelson specializes in documentaries and short narrative films.  She has produced three award winning short films, Hero of the Game, First and Ten, and Iron Boy.  These films screened at the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo International Film festivals where Iron Boy took audience choice. First and Ten also screened at the 2007 Luna Film Festival in San Diego. Ms. Nelson’s first film Inside the Box highlighted the collaboration of Santa Barbara Girl’s Inc. with the Women Beyond Borders Box Project ten-year retrospective art show at UCSB in 2002.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an Associates of Arts Degree in Film Production from Santa Barbara City College and is a credentialed teacher. As a film educator she designed and led film production workshops for young children and teens.

Fond memories of playing sports in elementary school combined with Nelson’s physical education background helped her create these films. These films give  children a voice and an opportunity to share their stories. Shown to hundreds of school children in the Santa Barbara area through a program called “Community of Respect”, these films were used as a medium to help children learn about risk taking, equality and non-discrimination.

The short comedy, Hero of the Game investigates the playground’s most epic sport, Handball. Many young and old folk can relate to the challenges of this schoolyard obsession.

As a female athlete, Nelson is aware of the discrimination in Women’s athletics. First and Ten tells the story of 10-year-old Suzanne Fiske, the first girl to play YFL football in the 1970’s-A true pioneer for girls and women’s sports.

Iron Boy reveals the drive and dedication involved in the sport of Triathlon and the challenges one boy faces as one of the youngest and most successful triathletes in the world.

Nelson hopes these films inspire viewers to follow their dreams and know that they can reach them and feel good about accomplishing their goals.