HER Film Camp mentors girls and non-binary youth in film production process during school breaks | VailDaily.com

HER Film Camp mentors girls and non-binary youth in film production process during school breaks

Armed with DSLR cameras, editing software and her film production friends, Vail native Meredith Kirkman is excited to kick off YouthPower365’s first HER Film Camp.

Girls and non-binary youth are encouraged to sign up for the two-week film production camp, which runs during school breaks from Nov. 23 to Nov. 28 (excluding Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 26) and Dec. 18 to Dec. 22. Campers will have the opportunity to work on production and editing, and will leave with their own trailers as well as credits on the final film, which will premiere at a future YouthPower365 event, when it is safe to gather again.

HER Film Camp is offered by the Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365, and is open to middle school and high school girls and gender non-conforming youth.
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The camp was originally intended as a summer program, but COVID-19 pushed it from summer 2020 to the fall. YouthPower365 hopes to use this fall as a trial run, and apply new knowledge from HER Film Camp’s first run to the complete summer 2021 program. The camp will be open to 14 young filmmakers to keep a small class size and maintain social distancing, and the camp will follow Eagle County School District’s COVID protocols, as the camp will take place in Battle Mountain High School classrooms.

In November’s Week 1, campers will learn how to shoot and produce a film, based on a script pre-written by Kirkman’s writing partner Andrew Tamarkin and Julia Musolino, who worked with Second City in Chicago and received scriptwriting education through Columbia College’s comedy and writing program.

In December’s Week 2, the campers will focus on post-production, including editing the short film as well as a group trailer and individual trailers. The result will be a majority-woman-produced film, with Kirkman as director and Eagle Valley High School senior Adriana Gallegos Helguera as assistant director and production manager.

The film’s script will hit on important local and national issues. Tentatively titled “Elena” after the protagonist, the story will follow the journey of a Mexican girl who was passed over for an acting role in favor of a white girl. Elena then stages her own production and shares it with her community, at the advice of her abuela (grandmother).

“The script is already underway,” Kirkman said. “It’s going to be so incredible to shed light on this type of culture. It’s going to be precious, and still empowering that female voice.”

Camp Executive Director and Vail native Meredith Kirkman premiered a feature film, “The Promise of the Butterfly,” at the 2019 Vail Film Festival.
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Kirkman’s own journey with film didn’t happen the way she’d expected. While attending Battle Mountain and college at the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Kirkman focused heavily on performance and dancing. But when it came time to apply for roles in dance productions, she wasn’t finding success. She’d always been interested in film, and decided to pour some more energy into that interest.

That’s how she and Tamarkin became writing partners. They worked on a documentary together for a class, and Kirkman was hooked. She continued pursuing film and worked on a production that involved six Chicago colleges in her senior year.

Earlier this year, she moved back to the Vail Valley — conveniently leaving Chicago before the coronavirus pandemic hit — and is focusing on building her film career. She hopes to move to Los Angeles in a year or so, and her ultimate goal is to own her own production studio.

Beyond making a short film that they can be proud of, Kirkman hopes that each camper can find a little piece of camp that makes them light up inside.

“I want them to walk away with life lessons: being brave and bold,” Kirkman said.

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