CELEBRATING 20 YEARS
Honoring Ghetto Film School's 20th anniversary by presenting stories and art that reflect our evolution as an organization
GFS AT 20
2015/16: THE FRICK FILM PROJECT AND TABLE READ AT THE STANDARD HOTEL
Ghetto Film School & The Frick Film Project
We asked current GFS Fellow, Fion Sin about her GFS story, and how she approaches making art now.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned from being a Fellow at Ghetto Film School?
Fion: My high school is very STEM driven, and I never felt like I had a huge creative outlet. When I heard about the Fellows Program, I jumped at the chance. I was a little nervous in the beginning, because I'm shy and a relatively quiet person. But being surrounded by people who share my interests, and love the same things as me, I found it easier to talk about film. And over time, that made it easier to talk in general, and made me a much better communicator than I used to be. The friends and mentors I've met at GFS, and the work we've done together, has taught me so much about teamwork, and how to adapt to quickly shifting situations.
Our virtual classes have allowed me to progress as an artist and have a sense of community even during this time of isolation. Being a GFS Fellow has presented me with a ton of opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise, like the IRIS IN program with the Erika Film Foundation. I'm only a month in, but I'm already having a great time and learning so much.
Directing the Frick Film Project in August 2020, when most industry productions were still shuttered, was an otherworldly experience. Filmmaking in general is very stressful, and adding a pandemic on top of it, really upped the stakes on my first time directing. Meeting up with your crew to prep, and visiting locations beforehand was out of question.
But at GFS you're surrounded by people who are just as passionate as you are about the work, and we made it happen together. Film is what you make of it. Even if resources are limited, you put your best foot forward and try to connect and learn. I never thought I had it in me to be this charismatic, communicative director, but I discovered that in myself during this experience.
What does it mean to be an artist right now?
Fion: The thing this pandemic has revealed is that the systems around us are far from perfect. Many communities are being overlooked, and it’s our job as artists to make sure they’re being heard. I’m being mindful of the kind of art I’m putting out and the stories I’m choosing to tell right now.
Partnership with The Frick Collection and the 2015 Table Read at The Standard Hotel
2015 GFS Fellows in classes with Xavier. F. Salomon (Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator) during the first year of the Frick Film Project
The Frick Film Project was created in 2015, when Ghetto Film School (GFS) Founder, Joe Hall, met Xavier F. Salomon, The Frick Collection's Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator. The connection was facilitated through Elizabeth Easton, Co-Founder and Director of the Center for Curatorial Leadership (CCL), when she invited Joe to represent GFS at the annual event for CCL fellows, and speak about his experience mentoring young artists.
Left to right: Ian Wardropper (Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director of The Frick Collection), Xavier. F. Salomon (Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator), and Joe Hall (Founder and then-President of Ghetto Film School)
Xavier and Joe shared a goal to provide a unique, high-level art appreciation program to young, diverse storytellers, and connect young people directly to the leadership of museums, which was rarely the case with museum education programs. Instead of being a stopping point, they were interested in positioning the art work at The Frick as source material which would provide inspiration for something else the students could create. This meant the engagement with the artwork wouldn't just be passive, and the idea arose to introduce students to new approaches for visual storytelling through the Frick’s collection, which in turn could inspire the making of a film.
As a part of a pilot program, The Frick opened its doors to GFS students for ten sessions on Mondays, when it was closed to the rest of the public. Xavier Salomon personally walked the students room by room, giving them behind-the-scenes access and the stories of each piece of art. Students were then encouraged to come up with stories that responded and added to the art in the Frick Collection, and the first Frick Film Project, "Progress of Love" was filmed on location at The Frick.
2015 GFS Fellows film on-location at The Frick Collection
Before filming their script, Ghetto Film School organized its first ever Table Read with support from The Standard, High Line Hotel in New York City, and other partners.
The Table Read was attended by luminaries and key GFS partners like Eric Price (Vice Chairman/Managing Director at CIBC World Markets Corp) and Agnes Gund (President Emerita and Life Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art). The students got to watch "Progress of Love" (The Frick Film Project) and "El Coche Rojo" (International Thesis Film Project, shot in Spain) read out by A-list actors like Alfre Woodard, Olivia Wilde, and received feedback from industry-leaders like Baz Luhrmann.
2015 GFS Table Read at The Standard, New York: Fellows receive feedback on their scripts from Alfre Woodard (L) and Baz Luhrmann (R)
We are immensely grateful for this partnership with The Frick Collection, which has only strengthened across the years, with insight and guidance from our key partners at the Frick, Xavier. F. Salomon (Deputy Director and Peter Jay Sharp Chief Curator), Ian Wardropper (Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Director of The Frick Collection), and Alexis Light (Head of Marketing at The Frick Collection).
Since that first successful year, the Frick Film Project has lead to six successful films to date, and around 150 young students who have gone through this one-of-a-kind arts and film hybrid program, and found their foothold as a storyteller in the process.
GFS Film Highlights
"Progress of Love"
by Marcus Owens
(2016 Frick Film Project, GFS NY)
"El Coche Rojo"
by Karla Taveras
(2016, Spain International Thesis Film Project, GFS NY)