Coffee Talk is a monthly informal chat between Washington Filmworks staff and local film industry professionals and arts organizations to better understand what it is they do, how our work and missions intersect, and what we can do to support like-minded projects moving forward.
You’re young and have a story to tell – but you aren’t quite sure of how to tell it. Where do you go? Reel Grrls is the best first step you could take.
Nancy Chang, Reel Grrls’ newly appointed Executive Director, and Dorothee Leesing, the group’s Mobile Program Coordinator, stopped by the Washington Filmworks office to share how the organization gets involved with the youth filmmaking community.
“We’re a unique gender-specific program in media,” Chang explains, as she works to connect young people who want to gain both professional development and filmmaking skills. “We’re not necessarily aiming to attract younger people and expect them to come to the organization, but rather reaching out to them and extending our organization into their community by helping them become content creators.”
The organization’s main goal is to create a safe place to explore storytelling for girls who would normally think the field is reserved for men, and help these young filmmakers discover their voice and to amplify it through film. Reel Grrls also embraces social justice, unafraid to make and tell stories that explore gender and oppression.
“We instill the idea that their work has value and that they have a network,” Chang explains, as the organization creates many opportunities and means of support for young female filmmakers. Reel Grrls imparts many filmmaking skills that Chang notes are also transferable to other professions. “Storytelling, critical thinking, problem-solving – these are skills that are important to any organization that wants to be successful because they need to be able to tell their story!”
One of the ways Reel Grrls implements this aim is through RG Pro, the organization’s official production arm. Reel Grrls Productions is a solid avenue for serious filmmakers that offers production services for local businesses and non-profits through Reel Grrls’ unique mentorship model – young filmmakers and esteemed professionals partner together to bring clients an effective blend of creativity and expression.
Although this is an efficient way of getting involved with businesses, Reel Grrls is reaching out even more to organizations in the local filmmaking community in 2015. They’re putting together partnerships with Women in Film/Seattle (WIF), National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), and B47 Studios to establish mentorship programs, get their students involved on a professional level, and work together to make a collective impact.
Looking ahead, Reel Grrls wants to get more involved with the evolution of digital entertainment and platforms through curating existing content that young people have and are making. Additionally, Leesing is working on Media Literacy programs that are educational workshops on how to tell a better story and get in touch or network with people. Chang and Leesing welcome the curiosity and involvement of both young storytellers and veteran filmmakers.
“For young women who want to get involved,” Leesing explains, “you must learn how to tell your story, network, and find mentors and resources.”
“For adult female filmmakers who want to help,” Chang suggests, “you should allow your time and insight into diverse backgrounds and talents.” Chang also notes that they are setting up quarterly mentor training sessions for all genders.
Reel Grrls is clearly a solid organization and wellspring of opportunities for curious young storytellers. We thank Chang and Leesing for stopping by and sharing their company’s goals, experiences, and advice!