An industry largely dominated by males, one Austin based group is attempting to change female representation in film — one young girl at a time. Femme Film Texas is a non-profit organization that reaches out to girls and teaches them the ins and outs of the film industry, while providing professional equipment and instruction from professional women filmmakers.
Michelle Voss created Femme Film Texas when she saw, first-hand, the absence of women on one of her own productions. A graduate from the University of Texas with a degree in Radio, Television and Film, Voss began work on her first film Velocity, a documentary about sustainability when she noticed how few women were on set.
“During that experience, I realized I only hired one woman to work on my production – one! It was like a ton of bricks hit me: Where were all the women? I knew something had to fundamentally change. I figured out that it had a lot to do with the technology — just getting girls to do it themselves — and putting the girls in charge by giving them an all-girls environment."
FFT started off with film camps in 2007 at the Ann Richards School. The organization also hosted a few overnight camps at the University of Texas, an almost 10-day crash course in filmmaking, from script to screen productions, costuming, acting, directing, cinematography, sound and editing. The camps are an intense workshop that Voss says “would make most adults run screaming, but these girls really sink their teeth in.”
"During that experience, I realized I only hired one woman to work on my production – one! It was like a ton of bricks hit me: Where were all the women?"
The Femme Film Texas girls range from grades six through 12 — a time in their life when they are just starting to figure who they are and who they want to be as people. A majority of the participants are economically disadvantaged and would otherwise not get access to the state-of-the-art equipment they use in their projects. Through the organization, they're given the opportunity to express themselves through the art of filmmaking and, ultimately, come into their own.
“A number of parents have told us that our programs have given their daughter a newfound confidence. Producing a film is a very challenging task, and the girls feel incredibly proud of their accomplishment. You can see it in their smiles... they’re just beaming with pride,” Voss says.
The Femme Film way of education is very hands on and taught by professional filmmakers. Local filmmaker Kat Candler has been involved with FFT since the start. “Here [Candler] is, one of the most accomplished independent filmmakers in town, and she’s writing scripts for girls, presenting her shorts and helping produce projects," explains Voss. "Students are paying big bucks just to hear Kat lecture at UT, and our girls are getting access to her for free. She’s incredible, and we’re lucky she has been such a great friend to us.”
Next up for FFT: raising money to fund the After School Film School. Created as a response to the needs of their students, the After School Film School will emphasize film acting and directing, encouraging the girls to push the boundaries of their imaginations on camera.
To contribute to the empowerment and education of the next generation of female filmmakers, you can donate through their website via PayPal HERE. It’s important to keep the diversity alive and allow these girls to express themselves through the power of film. Together with the City of Austin Cultural Contracts program, the Webber Family Foundation and Austinites like you, we can change the statistics in the film industry one girl at a time.
Student Work From Femme Film Texas