Next to the Central Cinema in Seattle is a small video studio called Reel Grrls, a non-profit that opens its doors to 13 – 19 year old girls and teaches them how to create their own films. My friend has worked there 4 years or so, and gave me a tour this past weekend. It’s a very gracious space, in what used to be a trendy yoga studio. They have new equipment, and their girls create excellent, award-winning films about patriarchy, women in the media, masculinity, and queer films.
I’ve been tossing around the idea of starting a non-profit like Reel Grrls that would work with Youth At Risk. Many Youth At Risk are foster youth, or youth who have precarious living situations, and find themselves reporting each month to a juvenile superior court judge, instead of to their loved ones and family members. Many times their punishment for skipping school, running away, coming home late, or experimenting with drugs is a week or month in juvenile detention. They end up missing more school, flunking grades, and destroying their lives — and blame is placed on the juvenile instead of the system for this.
When I first graduated from my 4-year university I looked into working at Americorps or Vista. One of the opportunities I was considering was a media consultant position in Juneau, AK. But I found out I would be working with the Youth At Risk program, holding troubled youth accountable to court rules, and counseling them to better drug impatient and outpatient solutions for them. What a waste of time, if you ask me. Too many conflicts of interest would arise. I could not send 14 and 15 year olds to jail and ruin their lives because their parents could not empathize and forgot what it was like to be a teenager.
At this point I’m gathering information about non-profit film centers, ones I have been to before in Denver, the Bay Area and the Midwest, and those that exist in the Seattle area. This kind of project would need to be feasible and would require a lot of comittment, especially starting up. With grant writing experience this could become easier. I do not know how much time I could commit to a project like this at the moment, since by default I would have to manage everything until I could afford staff and pull some Vista workers. Although it would be great to teach teenagers how to make great films and edit them on the weekends.
My favorites from Reel Grrls: