This past weekend, 180 professional filmmakers in New York City joined forces to create six short films as part of the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge.
The grassroots initiative was founded in 2017 by filmmakers Katrina Medoff and Tracy Sayre to address the lack of women and non-binary people behind the camera and on screen through a variety of programs, including its signature film challenge.
This was the organization’s fifth film challenge, and the first since the pandemic forced productions across the country to shut down. To date, WWFC has held four film challenges — three in NYC and one in LA — and worked with more than 700 women and non-binary filmmakers to produce 30 short films that have been screened at more than 90 film festivals.
The 180 participants of this year’s challenge wrote, shot, and edited a total of six short films in just 84 hours. Organizers picked a genre out of a hat for each team and announced a prop that all films must incorporate. The six teams created by WWFC had until Sunday, August 14, at 11:59 p.m. to submit the completed short.
Nearly 600 people applied to fill every role of production — from gaffers and sound mixers to writers and actors.
“Our community was really hungry for this opportunity after COVID shut down production,” Sayre said. “This was our first in-person program after the pandemic hit, and the record-breaking number of submissions we received showed how much interest there is in networking with a diverse group of women and non-binary filmmakers.”
Kareema Bee, who participated in the 2019 challenge as an actor, decided to apply again because the relationships she built through the challenge were invaluable. This time around, she was a team leader — a producer in charge of one of the six crews.
“The Women’s Weekend Film Challenge helped me to stretch artistically and find community with other artists,” Bee said
The genres ranged from sci-fi to buddy comedy to romance. Past crews used a variety of backdrops for their short films, including a Brooklyn warehouse, a boat, and a ballroom. This year, shooting took place all across the city.
Top-of-the-line equipment, software, production insurance, production stipends and film festival submission stipends were provided courtesy of WWFC and its sponsors, including Zeiss, Sony, Arri, Cinelease, AbelCine, Gotham Sound, CarStage, Casting Networks, Endcrawl and Final Draft.
WWFC will host a premiere screening of the films in late August at Village East in Manhattan. Participants will network with each other and other industry members at an afterparty.