Leila Yavari: FemmeFilms Production

Name: Leila Yavari

Year: Junior

Major: Film and Media Studies

Extracurriculars: Rock climbing, gardening, many many picnics 


Tameka: What sparked your interest in film? 

Leila: My dad is a photographer, so growing up, I was always around cameras. My dad was very generous with allowing me to use pretty much any and all of the cameras he owned, so I always loved making little videos with my friends. 


T: Can you give us a brief overview of Campus MovieFest? What was your experience like? 

L: This year was my second year doing Campus MovieFest, and as always it was really stressful but fun. Essentially, you have a week to make a film and then you submit it to Campus MovieFest where, if it makes the top 16, it gets screened. This year was a little different for me because it was the first film FemmeFilms has ever created. So the fact that it won a Jury Award and a Silver Tripod for editing was very special. 


T: Who makes up FemmeFilms and how did you guys get started? 

L: I came up with the idea to start a female production company at the end of my sophomore year after finishing a semester of documentary film that had introduced me to so many women in the department and we all worked so well together- it was inspiring. This past year, we've all been collaborating with each other in our classes and outside to make our ideas reality. At the start of this semester, a few of us had dinner and decided to submit something for CMF, and that is how Petals was created. So right now, there are five core people who make up FemmeFilms- Tara Olayeye, Dalia Caudle, Urmi Chatterjee, Katrina Peed, and myself- as well as a few other women we have spoken to in the department who have expressed interest in joining. 


T: Can you tell us about Petals? What is it about? How did it come together?

L: Petals is about a girl who feels insecure about her lack of sexual experience in college then connects with her roommate when she also realizes she is a virgin. The best thing about FemmeFilms has been the vulnerable conversations that can take place when women come together to talk about experiences they have, which makes for strong stories. So Petals came out of conversations we all had together about stigmas against women who are having sex as well as women who aren't having sex. It's like if you do either, you can't win. And that was something we were trying to get across. In total, it took about three weeks from pre-production to production to post-production. The process was really easy, because we all wanted the film to have substance in addition to strong technique and aesthetic, so our communication was very open. That allowed our wonderful actresses to take risks and be comfortable, and for us to grow into our roles as filmmakers. It was a beautiful start to what will, hopefully, be FemmeFilms. 


T: Any projects in the works? 

L: We are currently assisting our female film friends who are in various production classes with their individual projects, but also are in the early stages of pre-production for a film that will hopefully be finished before finals. Mostly, we are preparing for next year where we have joined with ETV to have a budget, and officially get FemmeFilms off the ground.