Strides are being made to boldly close the wide gender gap in the entertainment industry within the Brentwood community. On Jan. 14, the Archer School for Girls held its ribbon cutting ceremony on its campus in honor of its brand new MediaSpace, a state-of-the-art learning space for Archer students.
Following the opening of the STEM-focused Saban IDEALab late last year, the MediaSpace was created for the purpose of encouraging girls to study and engage in fields that lack a prominent female presence.
Head of School Elizabeth English said the MediaSpace coincided with Archer’s overall mission.
“What are the areas that we feel are most critical for girls, that we feel they should get the message that they can ascend to the highest levels in certain fields?” English asked rhetorically.
“The reason we decided to devote these resources to media production is because we live right in the heart of the entertainment industry.”
To create a clearer understanding of the need for the MediaSpace, English provided some statistics that conveyed the low numbers of women active in film and media, including the fact that only 21 percent of filmmakers are women and that a mere 23 percent of films feature female protagonists.
“It’s our aim to change these low numbers at Archer,” English said. “One of the biggest issues is that when we watch television and movies, there are just so few female characters who are either a) real, or b) hold a job. The message that our daughters are getting about who they can become through media are depressing, frankly. There is a direct correlation between what our daughters see in the media and who they aspire to become.”
To try to alleviate the situation, Archer is making efforts to ensure that there will be a growing amount of females “running the studios and creating the content” themselves.
“The MediaSpace was designed to catapult women to the highest levels of media production, including film, television, and music,” English said.
With 12 editing bays, a sound booth, a soundproof lighting studio, a green screen, a screening room, and a media arts lab, the MediaSpace is well-equipped for the active and collaborative learning style that Archer seeks to achieve within its walls.
“This is a true 21st century learning environment,” English said. “At any given point of the day, there will be multiple classes working at one time. We want to encourage cooperative learning.”
English’s speech was followed by a presentation by film and theatre teacher Reed Farley, who expressed his passion and genuine interest in the well-being of the girls partly by showing the audience examples of films that his students had created in the past.
Appropriately titled “Inspiring Future Filmmakers: A Girl’s Imagination is Her Only Limitation,” Farley’s presentation gave the audience an in-depth glimpse about the potential of an Archer student behind the camera.
After learning about the Archer girls and seeing their works firsthand, the ceremony continued downstairs at the entrance of the MediaSpace where the ribbon-cutting was conducted.
Kathy Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, eight-time Academy Award-nominated producer, and Archer parent, was the dignitary to offer some inspiring words before the official grand opening of the MediaSpace.
“It’s important that girls start to see themselves in different lights,” Kennedy said. “It’s important that they can start to see themselves as camera operators, think about doing sound on a movie, and talk about the technical aspects of a movie.”
Students who had partaken in the film and video classes were also present at the ribbon cutting and were willing to answer any and all questions that attendees had for them.
The MediaSpace is set to serve as the hub for Archer’s Institute for Film and Video Literacy Program. Designed with modern elements and bright colors, the MediaSpace provides a lively atmosphere for Archer students to further their school’s goals of combating the persistent shortage of females in the media.
Archer School for Girls is located at 11725 Sunset Blvd. in Brentwood. For more information, visit archer.org.