Earlier this Summer I had the pleasure of working with Camp Reel Stories up in Oakland, CA with the inspiring Esther Pearl and many other big hearted individuals. Camp Reel Stories is a media camp for teenage girls ages 13-18. Their belief is that when women and girls are better represented behind the scenes, they will be better reflected on the screen.
The camp has two tracks available: one that takes one week and a more advanced track that goes for two weeks. Both culminate in a finished short film- either narrative or documentary- that is written, shot, and edited by a small group of girls and produced by an industry professional who is there to guide them through the film-making process.
I was assigned to the youngest group of girls and together we named our production company "Freedom Fighter Films." Each girl was unique from the next which probably sounds like an obvious statement, but it really blew my mind how smart they were. Sitting in the discussion about documentary film making, one girl brought up the sex trafficking of young girls in Oakland. Another brought up how she knew someone in this situation who didn't have the confidence to get out even though she and others have reached out to her. Really heavy stuff- especially that these girls were between 13 and 18!
Among the workshops presented, there was documentary, narrative, storyboarding, screenwriting, editing, sound design, lighting, and media literacy all taught by professionals in that field! Although I was here to pay my good fortune forward to the new generation, it was very beneficial to be able to hear these workshops, too. It was so inspiring! Brenda Chapman even spoke about story and her career from a young girl to college to being the token female in the story department to Pixar's BRAVE and beyond.
This entire week has reminded me why I love filmmaking. Whether it is animation or live-action, it's about a group of people coming together to tell a story- making something out of nothing! Breathing life into scripted word or finding a story in captured images. It wasn't all feather and flowers, but the challenges have made me stronger and this experience has changed me for the better. It was one of the major inspirations for moving forward with my podcast, Ink and Paint Girls!
Freedom Fighter Films made a documentary about something we all have wondered at one time or another, "What if?" Camp Reel Stories entered the film into the All American High School Film Festival and it has been named an Official Selection. It will be screened at the festival in New York this October! I am so proud of these girls!
If you'd like to see our film, you can see it below. Be sure to check out the other production company films at the Camp Reel Stories YouTube channel!
All photos via of Camp Reel Stories.