create / 2021

Girls' Voices Now

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Women's Voices Now

Girls' Voices Now empowers girls and femme-identifying youth (14-18) from under-resourced and underrepresented communities of Los Angeles County to find, develop and use their voice for positive social change through filmmaking. GVN is composed of: - a five-week intensive summer filmmaking training during which participants create their first short film; - a premiere public screening in the fall; - year-round programming for all current and past participants to continue supporting their personal, academic and professional development.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Girls’ Voices Now (GVN) addresses the lack of gender and racial diversity in the local film industry. In 2019, out of the top US 200 films, women of color made up only 4% of directors and 4% of writers. GVN was built to empower the next generation of female filmmakers and changemakers, and in the long-term, to contribute to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive film and media industry and society. GVN provides participants with great technical filmmaking skills and critical thinking tools. Our program has inspired many to become filmmakers and activists. But after hearing from them, it became clear that more long-term support was needed to set them on the path to successful careers in the film industry, as many racial, gender and socioeconomic roadblocks remain powerful barriers to entry. We launched our year-round alumnae program last year to further support their personal, academic and professional development, and are now looking to expand it.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

Girls’ Voices Now (GVN) empowers girls and femme-identifying youth (14-18) from under-resourced and underrepresented communities of Los Angeles County to find, develop and use their voice for positive social change through filmmaking. GVN is entirely free and participants receive a stipend. It is composed of several phases: - a five-week long intensive summer training 20 participants work in teams to create their first short documentary/social-change film. They benefit from a comprehensive curriculum delivering high quality filmmaking training with leadership and critical thinking skills through lessons, hands-on workshops, presentations from guest speakers, and activities. - a premiere public screening in the fall Participants take part in a Q&A and share their calls to actions with audience members (about 250-300). - a year-round alumnae program open to all past participants (serving about 70 youth currently, and growing every year with new cohorts). To amplify the program’s impact, and recognizing that the communities we serve are particularly affected by the pandemic and economic crisis, we built a year-round alumnae program last year to further support our participants’ personal, academic and professional development. Topics are chosen by past cohorts and include: support for college application, internships and job search; financial literacy workshops; hands-on filmmaking workshops and panels with women of color from the film industry.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

70
Direct impact
120,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

GVN’s goals are to: - Empower the next generation of changemakers and filmmakers - Build pathways for underrepresented voices to access the film industry - Create content with strong educational values for all ages For girls growing up in under-resourced communities, exposure to arts education is often very limited, and awareness of creative jobs as a sustainable and fulfilling career path may not exist. Our absolute vision for success is to see a significant number of alumnae entering fulfilling, lucrative creative careers, bridging the gender and racial representation gap and contributing to increasing the diversity shown in locally produced film, TV shows and other content to better reflect LA’s diversity. In addition, our main goal is to ensure that all of our alumnae know the value of their unique perspective after taking part in GVN, and that they have the tools and confidence to use their voice for positive social change in Los Angeles, no matter what field they work in.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We gather participants’ input and demographic information through online surveys when apply, before the program starts, right after it ends, and then yearly. Using before/after evaluation, we measure progress made in filmmaking skills, confidence and plans for the future. It also allows us to keep track of their individual achievements overtime. The participants’ confidence in themselves, in their ability to make a film and in their ability to create positive social change is a testimonial of the deep impact created (in 2020, the share of participants reporting feeling self confident in these areas increased respectively from 31% to 76%, 19% to 79% and 57% to 95%!). Recent program alumni have been admitted to prestigious universities and organizations (Columbia NY, UC Berkeley, ACLU, Fresh Films). We also track the number of attendees (about 300 in 2020), online viewers (522,000+), number selections to film festivals (48) and first prizes (7).

Which of the create metrics will you impact?​

  • Employment in the creative industries
  • Income inequality
  • Minority- and women-owned businesses

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the best place to LEARN