Women In Film Gives a Voice to Much Needed Charities

Since 1993, Women in Film’s PSA Committee has been producing over one hundred pro bono PSAs, most of them for charities that help women and children in the Los Angeles area that are unable to pay for their own.

All members of of the PSA”s film crew are volunteers who have donated their time and skills to help create PSAs on health, wellness and social services issues for other nonprofit organizations. Many of the PSA’S have garnered numerous awards, invites to the White House & Emmy nominations & wins.

The crews are made up of seasoned industry veterans, shooting 1 day over a weekend, working side by side with WIF members who may be “just getting their feet” in this industry thus creating great mentoring opportunities for those members to grow & learn in all areas of production all the while bringing a voice to much needed charities in the Los Angeles area.

WIF’s most recent PSA , “One Focus” for Age-related Macular Degenerative (AMD) disease consisted of a crew of 80 & bought out a stellar crew consisting of Director-Bonnie Spence, former Chair of WIF’S PSA Production Program & Warner Bros executive, Director of Photography-Cynthia Pusheck, Crystal Award winner of the 2010 Kodak Vision Award & DP of such shows as “Revenge” & “Brothers & Sisters”, Producer-Romell Foster-Owens, Emmy winning producer & Pres of Jowharah Films, Executive Producers- Judith Parker-Harris, Founder of the WIF PSA Production Program & Pres. of Health-Esteem Intl & Donna Loyd, former Co-Chair of the PSA Production Program & former Chair, WIF Speaker Series, Producer, “Spirit of Halloween”& Writer, Luann Barry, Former Co-Founder of the PSA Production & Pres. of 1st Wave Productions.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a progressive eye condition affecting as many as 15 million Americans, with 200,000 new cases each year. AMD causes severe vision loss because it attacks the macula of the eye, where our sharpest central vision occurs. It gets in the way of reading, driving, identifying faces, watching television, safely navigating stairs and performing other daily tasks. AMD never causes complete blindness, but it robs the individual of all but the outermost, peripheral vision, leaving only dim images or holes at the center of vision.

“When one listens & meets with these charities & those stricken, particularly with Macular Degeneration, it truly opens up your eyes to a much needed voice in this area that we in this industry can provide”, stated Donna Loyd. “Bonnie, Romell, Judith & I took the Amsler grid test ourselves to better understand the signs & symptoms to look for ourselves & to truly grasp the nature of the disease before we even tackled writing the PSA”.

Bonnie Spence added, “As we are working in a visual medium, I felt it was important to execute a spot where the audience will experience what it’s like to be visually impaired by AMD”.

“WIF was a lifesaver for me when I came out here from NY with no job, no connections and not enough money in the bank”, stated Tessa Bell, current Chair of the WIF PSA Production Program.  “And because they were, I now devote twenty hours a week to running a program that pays it  back while paying it forward. You can’t find that melding of opportunity and charity anywhere else in town”.

“As a female Cinematographer I was especially interested in helping out on this PSA because of the subject matter — a disease of the eye that affects women at a higher rate then men”, Cynthia Pusheck stated. “Shooting a “one-day” PSA actually means putting in a lot of time scouting, prepping and trying to line up a crew”, she continued. , “So, before you agree to a “freebie” you want to know that the project will be produced well and that your time won’t be wasted”!  After meeting with Romell and Bonnie I felt confident that this would be a good project and that there would be a PSA we’d all feel proud of when it was finished”.

One can not produce such spots without the generous donations of some amazing companies who contribute some of their valuable assets in support of the mission of WIF’s PSA Production Program.“The Women In Film PSA Program is a special blend of Commerce and Art”, stated Romell Foster-Owens. “We were very fortunate to have SIM Digital donate 2 Alexia cameras, Bling our digital dailies and Chainsaw the Visual Effects and Post Production elements which gives the PSA a quality that rivals major commercials”. These in-kind donations allow the filmmakers to produce high quality products, one that both the crew, WIF & charities can be proud of. Thanks to the generosity of Suzanne Lezotte, Director of Marketing for SIM Digital, the “One Focus” PSA shined.

Hillary Bibicoff, Women in Film Board member & a transactional entertainment attorney, at Holmes & Weinberg visited the set the day of the PSA shoot to lend her support . “The PSA Program is a wonderful benefit provided by Women In Film. Hillary stated. “It helps our members working in many different disciplines within the industry to gain valuable experience, as well as resume value and demo reel material, while also helping many other worthy non-profit organizations.  I always look forward to seeing the professional level of the finished product that emerges from this program year after year”.

Film students dream of having career in the entertainment industry. Thanks to the patronage of Donna Loyd, also an instructor at the Los Angeles Film School, a select few of her students from LA Film School were given the unique opportunity of working on a professional set, attend production meetings & network with some of the industries finest. Hal Lieberman, Director of the Entertainment Business program at the LAFS & Producer, Bridge to Terabithia, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, commented,  WIF does very important work, and their PSA’s support so many great causes”. “I’m grateful that our students have been given the opportunity to get this hands-on experience, and I’m proud that these young students chose to channel their education toward such a good cause”.

The Women in Film Production Program is such a wonderful asset to this industry. Unique with its philanthropic mission & education, it is a gem that we are all so proud to show off!

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