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Inaugural film festival aims to keep young creatives in Indiana

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jun 19, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Deonna Weatherly graduated from Indiana University in 2020.

“Which was the worst year to graduate,” Weatherly said. “I didn't have a job or a clear direction that I wanted to go, so I created my own production company called Weatherhouse Co.”

Weatherly also founded Weatherhouse Institute, a nonprofit that provides creatives with a hands-on learning experience in film and video production.

Indiana Youth Film Festival: Deonna Weatherly

“We brought in high school age students and young adults and taught them how to make films,” Weatherly said. “[We] gave them a hands-on learning experience, and they had to make a film after each session.”

But something was missing.

“We had small premieres and we had their family or friends come out and watch their films, but it just seemed like there needed to be something more, like that comes next," Weatherly said.

At the end of 2022, Weatherly came up with the idea of creating a film festival just for the young people in Indiana.

“I created my company to give opportunities specifically to women and people of color in the film industry,” Weatherly said. "So, I think having a youth film festival only makes sense.”

Meet the Filmmaker: Marissa Baker

Marissa Baker grew up making movies.

“I used to hang out with my best friend and we would make little movies,” Baker said. “I thought that was super cool and I just had a passion for it.”

It’s a passion Baker carried with her as a student at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School.

Indiana Youth Film Festival: Marissa Baker

“I've always gone to predominantly white institutions,” Baker said. “And sometimes it's harder to find people like me who came from the same culture and background.”

Baker says she drew inspiration for her film from the Young Women of Color club located inside Brebeuf. The film, “Beautiful Roots,” follows the story of a girl who Baker identifies with.

“It's about this young woman of color,” Baker said. “Her name is Aaliyah Davis, and she creates a club at her school after being bullied. I kind of made that into an image and then created something that could inspire other people, like me, to come together as one.”

Participating in the inaugural Indiana Youth Film Festival is an exciting prospect for Baker.

“I think it really shows me that I do have some sort of skill that I can keep increasing as I go on,” Baker said. “Even though I did this all by myself, and I didn't necessarily have the most great materials, I can still make something great.”

Meet the Filmmaker: Myla Tissandier & Colin Wood

Myla Tissandier and Colin Wood first met in high school. Tissandier wanted to be an animator and Wood wanted to be a YouTuber. However, each ended up in a radio-television class.

“Ever since I got into that class, it just kind of changed my whole trajectory of what I was going to do with my life,” Tissandier said.

“We met there, and that's kind of how I got into film,” Wood said. “We were messing around making videos and stuff.”

Indiana Youth Film Festival: Myla Tissandier & Colin Wood

The pair is now pursuing their degrees at Indiana University and they recently completed their film titled, “The Taken.”

“The film is about this guy who watches his family get taken in front of his eyes while he's on the phone and he decides that he's going to go after them,” Tissandier said. “It's just a really big action-packed film that we were really just seeing if we could test our skills.”

Skills they continue to grow.

“We're proud about it, but I feel like with anything that you make, you always go back and you watch it, you would have done this differently,” Tissandier said.

“I think overall, we're pretty happy because it was our first film,” Wood said.

The pair is also happy to share advice to other aspiring filmmakers.

“If you're a young filmmaker, just do it,” Tissandier said. “Don't sit around and have these thoughts in your head and think about how you really want to do something, just start.”

The Indiana Youth Film Festival is June 22. Click here for more information about the festival.

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