In the culmination of the year’s creative curriculum, the Archer School for Girls hosted its third annual student-run Film Festival on April 30 at the Westfield Century City AMC Theatres.
Young Palisadians Coco McDermott and Sophie Dimont worked alongside their peers to offer student filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their work and learn from notable industry professionals, complete with a pink carpet reception followed by keynote address from Amanda Brown, writer of “Legally Blonde.”
The festival concluded on Archer’s campus where entertainment industry panelists offered insights on challenges facing women in the entertainment industry, particularly from executive, creative and production standpoints.
McDermott, a senior at Archer, took away one central message from the festival’s panelists.
“A common theme that a lot of the guests mentioned was this idea of perseverance,” she said. “Despite the film industry being constantly discouraging, many of the panelists agreed that you must appreciate each little victory along the way, and never let the fear of failing hinder you from reaching your goals and dreams.”
McDermott became involved with the festival through the advanced film class, contributing to the intro reel and promotional efforts.
“A lot of the curriculum is driven towards contributing to the festival; whether that be contacting panelists, organizing the venue and food or shooting a film to be submitted into the festival,” McDermott said.
Raised in Rustic Canyon by parents who work in the film industry, McDermott is no stranger to the mechanics of Tinsletown.
“I have grown up surrounded by it, and therefore I’m very comfortable in front of and behind a camera. I have always loved the story-telling aspect of film-making and hope to continue studying it and making my own films in college,” she said.
McDermott will be attending Barnard College at Columbia University in the fall and hopes to pursue a career in the family business.
“I’m not sure if I’d like to be acting, screenwriting or directing. I plan to try a little bit of everything,” she said.
Classmate Dimont, who lives in the Highlands, has been interested in photography from an early age, but her recent transition into film has opened new worlds of creativity.
“My mom put a camera in my hands as soon as I could walk and I stayed very focused on photography until I was 12 years old; when I became more interested in film,” Dimont said. “I realized that my brain works in a really unique way; I see the world in shots and frames. It made sense to see if film was something that worked for me.”
Dimont was eager to be involved with the festival after taking an introductory film course last year.
“The film class is really phenomenal and the experience of making my own films has fostered an enormous passion that has resulted in feelings of satisfaction and self-confidence that are unparalleled in anything else I’ve ever experienced,” she said.
Working as the assistant PR manager for the fully student-run event, Dimont said she was encouraged to step out of her comfort zone, learning to operate the festival website among other responsibilities.
Collaborating with her peers futher inspired Dimont’s interest in exploring her passions at a professional level, she said.
“If I were to pursue a career in the industry, I recognize that it would take 150 percent of who I am. But I believe that if I put in the work, I could make something that has the potential to make me really, very happy,” she said. “That’s the ultimate dream, isn’t it?”
The annual Archer Film Festival is dedicated to recognizing and celebrating young filmmakers. The ultimate goal is to reinvent the traditional worlds of television and film production, in order to create an array of opportunities for both genders.
Not wanting to exclude men, but rather to include women in equal standing, the festival is open to all high school student filmmakers.