Girls and Production (G.A.P.) is an after-school program featuring a semester of seminars geared towards films about and made by women, followed by a semester of learning beginning technical filmmaking skills, and culminating in several short student films. An a/perture cinema and Sawtooth School for the Visual Arts program, this course will provide students from ages 14 to 18 with a nuanced understanding of gendered and female representation in film alongside fundamental filmmaking skills that will equip them to actively participate in the growing movement to bring more female filmmakers into the industry of movie-making!
When Alex (Sawtooth’s VP) and I sat down to discuss the possibility of an after-school filmmaking program for high school girls, we didn’t realize both of us wanted the same outcome from the meeting. I was inspired by a program at The Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, TN called Strong Leads that addressed the lack of female voices in film through discussion-based seminars, but lacked a practical component that taught the girls in the course how to actually make films and subvert the lack of representation they see in front of and behind the camera. We wanted to get it off the ground as soon as possible, so we shot for a September start-date and put the program together over the summer with some help from a successful crowd-funding campaign. We asked students to apply to the program with some general information and questions about their relationship to movies. The results were just so, so awesome. Girls with a wide range of tastes in movies, books, music—and all from different schools in the county. I called each of them to interview for the program and each student had something different they were bringing to the table. I wish we could have admitted every applicant because they really were all so phenomenal. The first semester was from September to mid-November 2018 over 8 weeks at a/perture in our smallest screening room, Petit a/.
The second semester will be at Sawtooth for the filmmaking workshop portion of the course. So far, we’ve discussed an extensive and challenging set of concepts and films. Laura Mulvey’s The Male Gaze on day one to queer theory and bell hooks’ The Oppositional Gaze. This course was formatted like that of a Women & Film 300 course you might find in college—and the girls rose to the challenge and then some. Their own experiences as young women informed how they understood the camera’s treatment of femininity, masculinity, and gendered representations of actors on screen. Many of them plan on studying film in school and I couldn’t be more thrilled. GAP’s holiday party will allow the girls to see the next space they’ll be learning in at Sawtooth. And though January is still weeks away, we’re not where we need to be in terms of funding. We’re looking for monetary donations of course, but also need iPhones for the girls to use in the filmmaking portion of the course where we’ll be retrofitting the cameras with equipment for professional filmmaking quality. The next semester will be taught by Jennida Chase, assistant professor at UNCG, with assistance from Alex Klein, Sawtooth’s VP. The curriculum is still being made but will involve a different facet of basic filmmaking skills every week—lighting, camera work, editing, etc. We’re wanting the program to be even bigger next year. Your support—whether through donations or word of mouth—will mean the successful continuation of this program. We also need great students. So, if you know a high school girl who needs an extra push towards an interest in filmmaking, send them our way! Applications for the Fall 2019 semester should open at the end of Spring.