Graduates of Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking’s Basic and Advanced Reel Camps and Spooky Reel assembled on the stage at the Doris Duke Theatre to discuss “Girls Make Movies.” The panel was part of the Women of Wonders Film Festival presented by HWF and made possible thanks to the generosity of the Hawai’i Women Legal Foundation.
Moderated by the theatre’s Taylour Chang, the young filmmakers Phoenix Maimiti Valentine Uesugi, Ryann Coules, Chloe Fagan, Mele Hattori, Lucy Fagan and Kayla Manz shared their inspiration, challenges and their plans.
Girls from the Basic Reel Camp told shared that they lifted stories from experiences in their adolescence.
“We wanted to focus on something that’s really relevant in a lot girls our ages lives, which is friendship and how friendships can end badly with betrayal and bullying,” Lucy said.
Similarly, Mele and Chloe based So We’ll Always Remember on people they know or situations they’ve experienced.
“Our meaning behind the film was supposed to show how relevant topics, how social media can influence friendship now and how much friendships have changed based on who gets tagged in photos and who likes these photos and things people say,” Mele said. “We didn’t want to end on a happy note to show the truth about modern friendships.”
Phoenix’s production Kill Them With Kindness was about girls who were getting bullied. But instead of getting back at the bullies, the girls decided to spread positive messages to win the bullies over.
“I was inspired to make my film Kill Them With Kindness because I wanted to express a message of peace and that peace and happiness can be stronger than anger and resentment,” Phoenix said.
Kayla’s film, Diagnosed Pink, struck a much more personal note. Unlike the others, Kayla produced a documentary on Lindsey Andrews, a young mother and close friend to Kayla, while she battles Stage IV breast cancer. Kayla has known Lindsey ever since Lindsey started babysitting her. Now Kayla babysits Lindsey’s daughter and Kayla wanted share Lindsey’s story.
“People who have cancer fight a battle that we can never imagine,” Kayla said. “Their stories are amazing they should be shared with people, us.”
Ryann’s film was the lone film to come out of the Spooky Reel Camp. She considered hers a throwback to The Twilight Zone episode with clones. While her colleagues on the panel stated time constraints and learning to collaborate with others as a challenge for them, Ryann’s film, The Replacements,” dealt with technical, special effects.
“Because of the clone aspect, you had to have shots where you could see both of them [the clone and the character]. That special effect was really difficult,” Ryann explained. “When the premiere came that Saturday, we literally had to come in early. We had to re-shot that scene over again. It was so hard to get the angles right. When you’re doing the double cut, you have to be precise.”
But in discussing their experiences, the girls unanimously agreed that they hope to continue working in media in some aspect. Chloe pitched a topic she’d be interested in exploring for a future film project.
“I think a cool film to relate to teenage girl would be the difference between a teenage girl in 2017 than a teenage girl in the 1980s, and how our parents grew up versus how we grow up. I mean, we have internet, we have social media, more so social media-based lives. There’s a quite a difference,” Chloe said.
To catch more of their photos and interview at the Women of Wonders Film Festivals, check out WOW page.