When Andrea Beça started her quest to hire as many women as possible to work on a film production in 2016, she was met with rage.
“I actually got hate mail,” the Edmonton-based filmmaker said. “I had to block a bunch people on social media and I was just kind of being attacked and being called a sexist and being told that I was being exclusive.”
The backlash didn’t deter Beça, the founder of Solidarity Film Camp, from her mission. It was a turning point that led to her life mandate to fight for better equality and representation in film and television — in front of the camera and behind it.
With eight participants, the first class of the film camp — a crash course in filmmaking for marginalized youth, including females, LGBTQ2S+ and young people with disabilities — is now in session.
“As an audience member and as a filmmaker I’m really tired and bored of the same narrative over and over again,” Beça said.
“And times are changing but not very quick,” she said, noting not a single woman was nominated in the best director category for this year’s Oscars.
“And when you get into further intersections like women of colour, queer women, all of that representation drops down to basically nothing.”
Film camp participant Graceli Licardo said growing up, she didn’t see a lot of people representing her on screen as a second-generation Filipino Canadian.
Camps like Solidarity are important because they give marginalized aspiring filmmakers opportunities to develop and feel accepted in the industry, she said.
“It felt like a warm hug,” she said of her first day at the two-weekend camp, which kicked off on Jan. 11.
The camp, which was open to aspiring filmmakers from age 14 to 24, wraps up Sunday, and will also include a screening night to share finished projects with family and friends at the end of the month.
Beça’s goal is for campers to finish the workshop knowing there’s space for their stories in film and television.
“Not only is there space for all of our stories but there’s a genuine need for all of these stories to be told,” she said. “And that we all have the power to change the world and create change with story.”