With Fortunee C. Images courtesy of Fountain of Youth Productions.
Audrey and Shay are two very creative Jewish teen girls from Massachussetts. Together, they run their own filmmaking company, Fountain of Youth Productions. They’ve released two amazing short films so far, and as their name suggests, FYP’s crew consists entirely of kids and teens! We had the opportunity to speak with these talented young ladies about their creative endeavors so far, how FYP started, and their plans for the future.
What inspired you to start Fountain of Youth Productions?
Shay: I’ve long been frustrated with the wide held belief that kids can’t do the things adults do – such as make films, start businesses, take on leadership roles, do quality work, etc. – just because they’re kids. The idea for FYP came in January 2012. Audrey and I both have a passion for acting and filmmaking and we started FYP for other kids like us. The film industry is hard enough to break into as an adult – for kids, real filmmaking opportunities are basically nonexistent. We created Fountain of Youth Productions for kids as an access point to the world of movie-making and to prove that kids can do anything. You don’t have to wait to grow up to do what you love.
Audrey: In dreaming up FYP, Shay and I envisioned a group of kids working together to create quality films. We wanted to show that it is possible for kids to create thoughtful, entertaining, and engaging films that audiences will enjoy watching. Our goal is to provide kids with the opportunity to learn and actively take part in whatever aspect of filmmaking they’re interested in; whether that’s makeup, costume design, directing, producing, writing, acting, cinematography, lighting, editing, etc.
Did you have any prior experience in filmmaking and acting?
Shay: Before founding FYP, I had acted in two school/camp plays and a friend’s remake of the film Newsies, which ended up just being a few clips. I also attended a week long theater acting class the summer before FYP was founded, which led me to organize a drama class (which is still running). Other than that I just did a lot of dreaming.
Audrey: Since age eight, I went to a performing arts camp, Jewish Girls Retreat, where I developed a love for acting. The camp did a movie every summer, so I was fortunate to have some experience on a set and acting in front of the camera. I also liked to fool around with iMovie, editing family videos and fake trailers. But most of the experience I have now came from my involvement in FYP. We’ve certainly learned something new every step of the way!
How is a Fountain of Youth Production made from start to finish? How long does it take?
Shay: So far, it’s been Audrey and I developing a story and writing a script. Though we hope to bring other kids in on that process. Once we have the script, we’re juggling a lot of different tasks at once. We have to recruit others like the Associate Producer and Assistant Director. Then, we hold auditions to cast the actors in the film. This whole phase is called pre-production, which includes location scouting, finding props, creating a filming schedule, looking for other crew members, etc. Then filming comes, which can go from one day to a week depending on the length of the movie. After filming, the editing stage begins which takes the bulk of the time. This includes choosing which “take” of a scene we want to use, editing the clips together, adding a soundtrack, editing sound, adding credits – basically, everything needed to create a polished product. Then we will have a premiere of some sort, which of course takes time to organize. For our first film, Countdown, we had a red carpet event at a local library. With our second film, Drawing Inspiration, we did an online live streamed Q&A.
Audrey: As for how long the entire process takes, start to finish, Countdown took about a year. Our second film, Drawing Inspiration, went a lot faster! We wrote the script and filmed a week later. The editing took a few months after that.
What’s it like working with a crew of young people?
Shay: Exciting! Also very comfortable. There’s this great balance between complete professionalism and hanging out with your friends, old and new. It’s very inspiring to see how amazing these kids are and watch them succeed at jobs traditionally not trusted to kids.
Audrey: Very fun. We always try to maintain a professional atmosphere and stay on schedule, but doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of fun on set! I think what’s really great about it is meeting new kids who share our passions. It’s a great place to bond because filming is this crazy state of getting everything done in time and it can be a long day – because of that, everyone has a common interest and comes away with a shared experience. I also love to see young people really step up to the challenge of the job they’ve taken on and impress us!
What has been your most positive experience working on FYP so far?
Shay: It would be impossible to pick one. There have been so many extraordinary experiences, moments, and realizations. Actually being on set – working on a shoot is always a favorite and particularly unique experience. Knowing that your film made someone cry is very validating. Seeing the finished product, knowing everything that went into it, and thinking “Wow, I made that.” But in the end knowing that I did it. I did it! Watching this dream, this belief that I’ve cherished for so long, become a proven reality around me is something that I’ll take with me my whole life.
Audrey: I can’t add too much to that! But yes, definitely seeing the finished product is very rewarding. Hearing from viewers that the film touched them in some way – that’s the best. Also, seeing how far we’ve come from our first film to our most recent work. How much we’ve learned and improved our technique and storytelling. Additionally, it’s so wonderful to hear from kids who are inspired by FYP and are trying to pursue their own acting or filmmaking projects.
What are your aspirations for the future? Are producing movies and acting things you would like to do in the long-term?
Shay: For me, acting and filmmaking are life long passions. I don’t know how “far” I’ll go with it, but I know it will always be a part of my life in some way.
Audrey: The film industry – whether in front of the camera or behind it – is definitely where I want to be. I’m working on applying to film schools now, as well as actively pursuing acting and film opportunities.
Do you have any advice for Jewish girls who are interested in filmmaking or acting – either professionally or for fun?
Shay: Don’t be afraid. There are many obstacles on this path but the biggest obstacle you could possibly have in your way is yourself. Being an observant Jewish girl can make it seem like acting/filmmaking is impossible, but it’s not. If this is what you want, but you think the obstacles are too much, start working towards it anyway. The only way to do it, is to actually do it. It is possible, it’s just slow. Remember that this a very difficult business for anyone. The fastest way to learn the ropes and gain access to opportunities is to network. If you’re serious about making this happen and want more advice, please contact us! We’ve learned a lot and we’d love to help you on your way. As for having fun, do just that. Do whatever parts of filmmaking you find fun in a relaxed way, with whatever tools you have available to you. This is also a great way to practice skills for those who want to take this more seriously so you’ll be ready for opportunities that come your way or to create your own. It’s a lot of hard work, but if you love it, it’s worth it and most of it won’t even feel like work. And remember, success isn’t defined as fame. Success is you being happy with what you’re doing and your accomplishments. Very few people become famous. Above all focus on the positive! That’s how you keep moving forward.
Audrey: Create your own opportunities. Start an acting class or club. Have your friends over on a Sunday and make a short, simple short film together using whatever resources you have. Learn, learn, learn – there are so many resources available to you. You can find online video tutorials for almost anything film related: screenwriting blogs, free software, short films you can watch, for examples. There are also many great books; two of my favorites are Filmmaking for Teens by Troy Lanier and Clay Nichols, and Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. Write stories – they don’t have to be scripts, just get good at telling a clear, compelling story. Look for acting classes in your community. Also, don’t be afraid to ask. There was an acting class I wanted to take but they only did it on Saturdays (Shabbat), so all I did was ask if they would consider doing a Sunday class and they did. I did a student film that was very accommodating to me and filmed only during the week, instead of the usual weekend shoot. There will definitely be challenges, but if you are passionate and driven you can forge your own path. And most of all, reach out to others! Find other young actors or filmmakers like yourself. Contact other independent filmmakers you can learn from. Shoot us an email. You’re not alone!
Thank you, Audrey and Shay, for sharing with us! You can visit them, and the rest of the FYP crew, at their website, www.fountainofyouthproductions.com.