Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An Interview with Angelight Films Creator, Stephanie Angel

Recently we were introduced to an organization called Angelight Films. As stated on their website, this nonprofit production company gives chronically and terminally ill children the opportunity to express themselves in their own short film.

We had the chance to interview Angelight Films creator, Stephanie Angel, about her organization, where her inspiration came from and how you can help support this important company.

1. Angelight Films is a great example of a person taking their expertise and passion and using it in a way that can help others. Was combining your two passions - film and advocating for children with brain and spinal tumors - obvious to you, or did something more specific spark the idea?
I had a younger sister who died of a brain tumor when she was five and I was seven. I wanted to do something in her honor. As I met more children who had brain tumors, I kept thinking of how wise, smart and funny these children are. I believe that we have a lot to learn from them, which is why I have combined my passion for helping these children and love for film, to give back in this particular way.

2. What is your end goal for each film that is created? What are you hoping the child and his or her loved ones walk away with?
The end goal is two-fold; first the child has a sense of accomplishment like none other, as their focus shifts from being a victim of a brain tumor to being a creator. This has proved to be an empowering process. Second, the child's family has a film to cherish that truly captures their child's brightness. A further goal is to expand to share our films in hospitals and other outlets where others can be inspired by films made by these children.

3. How much guidance are you providing the children when they make their movies?
The process begins with a kickoff meeting where I go to the child's home and meet the child and his or her family. They usually show me their room and share with me their interests and challenges. I ask them a series of questions to get to know them better and leave them with a sketchbook and some crayons which they use to draw and/or jot down some of their ideas. I meet with them again as many times as it takes to develop their ideas into a filmable format. The films are all about what the child wants to create, and they are engaged in the entire process. Our priority throughout the entire production, from the filming to the editing, is to manifest their vision into a film.

4. What are the reactions of the families when watching their film for the first time?
Lily, our first filmmaker, with her eyes wide open said "I want the whole world to see my movie!" Lily and her family call to tell me that they can't stop watching it. Kyle with his arms reached up in the air said “I am important!” And Colin, who was a King in his movie, invited his Queen and all of his friends over to watch the première. They kept playing it over and over.

5. What has been your most profound moment since creating Angelight Films?
It's hard to choose just one. I think the most profound moments for me are simply the looks on the children's faces when they realize they get to create a movie and it's about whatever they choose. It is priceless to see their proud faces when they are the center of attention for something so positive, and the way that they light up when they watch their finished film.

6. What advice do you have for other people who are motivated to create their own nonprofit, but are completely intimidated by the entire process?
If you are passionate about your cause, be persistent, don't give up, and eventually you will make your vision a reality. Don't be discouraged by the paperwork or the processing time. Use that time period to develop your ideas and reach out to contacts in your field. Also, surround yourself with a supportive Board of Directors who believe in your mission and are willing to go the extra mile.

7. What You Can Do focuses on actionable ideas that people can take in one minute. Is there something a person can do in one minute to help Angelight Films? If they can't donate money, is there another way they can contribute?
Email ten people a request to do the following to see if there are ways they may be able to help out:
View our films on our website http://www.angelightfilms.org/
"Like" us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/update_security_info.php?wizard=1#!/AngelightFilms
And follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/search/angelight%20films

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