Move Over Spielberg: There’s a New Girl in Town

'Girls in the Director's Chair' and Women in Film Empower Young Girls to Direct

By (BI) Susanna Daniel

LOS ANGELES -- With role models like Jessica Alba or Reese Witherspoon, many young women confidently pursue acting careers, but it's a different story behind the camera.

Women comprise just 16 percent of all executive producers, directors, writers, cinematographers and editors of the top 250 domestic grossing films.

Girls in the Director's Chair (GIDC) is an organization that’s trying to change those numbers. The group has debuted a joint public service announcement (PSA) and two-minute film short, created by an all-star team of young GIDC female filmmakers.

In line with GIDC's mission to empower young women in their filmmaking aspirations, the PSA focuses on a young girl's dream to become an established director in Hollywood and encourages other teens to explore their own creativity and artistic potential through Fresh Films, a national platform for teen filmmaking.

Cici Holloway, president of Women in Film, said, "It is important to reach out to girls while they are still in high school, to help them realize their potential and goals."

She added, "We hope that by starting this early outreach, it will help turn the numbers around on behind the scenes employment of women in Hollywood."

According to a recent survey of teen girls between the ages of 15-19, without the right vehicles or opportunities, young women are less inclined to pursue a career in the creative arts.

The survey found that areas of most interest to girls today lie in front of the camera rather than behind the scenes and they think it's easier for young men to break into and hold jobs "behind the camera" than it is for young women to do so.

GIDC was created in partnership with Fresh Films, the only national teen filmmaking program where teens are selected from thousands of entries to cast, direct, shoot and edit a film.

The GIDC program includes a grant program and online and offline content allowing girls an opportunity to meet, discuss and pursue their passion in creative arts. The ten young filmmakers who created the PSA are mentors for the 2006 Fresh Films program and each received a $2,500 film grant.

The current GIDC team includes the following young women:

Laura Rodriguez, 17, Miami, FL
Lisa Vu, 19, Los Angeles, CA
Taylor Tope, 15, Dallas, TX
Katie Shehan, 16, Nashville, TN
Monica Allen 17 Chicago, IL
Lauren Dydyn, 20, Denver, CO
Taylor Luke, 16, Baltimore, MD
Layla Sotelo 15, New York , NY
Becky LeVeck, 19, Seattle, WA
Nicole Donadio, 20, Caldwell, NJ

Fresh Films is accepting entries from thousands of teens for the filmmaking portion of the program. Then, over seven days during summer break, ten "film crews" of finalists will each cast, direct, shoot and edit a film using professional camera equipment.

The resulting ten films will go head-to-head online, where hundreds of thousands of people will view and vote for their favorite film.

The top film will then be featured at a premiere-style event in September where the crew of the top-place film will be crowned the 2006 Freshest Teen Filmmaker.

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