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New Program Aims to Teach Teenage Girls Filmmaking Skills

Sarah Kellogg

Aspiring or current young women filmmakers in the Little Rock area will have the opportunity to work with and learn from professionals in the industry as they create a short film, as a part of a new free program.

The eight-week initiative, which will occur on Tuesday nights and Sundays, gives girls, aged 16 to 18, the opportunity to create a film from start to finish. No prior experience in film is necessary to sign up for the filmmaking lab. The Arkansas Cinema Society, along with JM Associates and the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas - Girls of Promise Initiative is presenting the program.

To Kathryn Tucker, executive director of the Arkansas Cinema Society and a filmmaker herself, this program is personal to her.

"So when I grew up in Little Rock, I would say there wasn’t a lot of filmmaking opportunities, but there weren’t really any at all. So this program is close to my heart because I wish there would have been a program like this growing up in Little Rock," Tucker said.

The lab is split into two sections each week. Tuesdays will be more lecture-based, while girls will have a more hands-on experience maneuvering the filmmaking process on Sundays. The program is using spaces and equipment provided by JM Associates throughout the workshops. The program will go through each step of the filmmaking process, from story ideas, screenwriting, cinematography, directing, editing and more. The girls will have mentors for each step of the process, including Tucker herself.

Tucker says this hands-on element is essential for those who want to become filmmakers.

"It’s important to have a hands-on lab in filmmaking because you can’t teach people...you can’t teach students how to make a film in a classroom. You can give them film theory. You can teach them about other films and you can help them discover their voice writing, but truly you have to get into the field and get hands-on training to understand how to make a movie," Tucker said.

While Tucker is eager to work with the girls on all aspects of the filmmaking lab, she said she’s most excited about the brainstorming process and coming up with film ideas.

"It’s really incredible working with young people and their imaginations and pulling out story ideas. They’re just so unbelievably creative and they’re not...I don’t know. They’re just really passionate," Tucker said.

Tucker says the idea is to produce one to two short films in this period of time, with teams of about six participants. Each girl will come up with their own story idea and the overall groups will decide which ideas would move on to the screenplay phase. There are a few guidelines to the project. One is that the film has to emphasize STEAM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math.

Anna Beth Gorman with the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas says while her organization focuses more on STEM education, the blending of STEM and art is a natural fit with filmmaking.

"We try to highlight career pathways for females that have great paying jobs on the other side of them. And so, again, even in the new STEM economy, the arts and film, that’s where you’re going to use a lot of science, technology, engineering and math," Gorman said.

Tucker says it’s important that this lab is for girls because of the lack of women representation in the filmmaking industry.

"Even finding mentors for the program, it was difficult to find female mentors. So we feel like if we inject this kind of program into the community, it will increase the number of young filmmaking girls in the state," Tucker said.

The final products will be screened at the Arkansas Cinema Society’s FILMLAND festival, along with other potential society programming.

Registration for the program ends on Friday, March 15. More information can be found here.

Sarah Kellogg was a Politics and Government reporter for KUAR from November 2018- August 2021.