With the beautiful fall weather surrounding us here in Philadelphia, attending some arts and entertainment events should definitely be on your to-do list! We had the opportunity to interview Drexel Alum and local filmmaker Amanda Danziger about her rise into the industry and her upcoming documentary, “The Backyard Philly Project.” Screening this Saturday night at 5pm at the Franklin Institute for the First Glance Film Festival, we urge all you readers to go out and support Amanda and her amazing film! Keep reading for a glimpse into Amanda’s mind:
Femme & Fortune: Tell us all about yourself and how did you begin your journey in the film industry?
Amanda Danziger: I am a wife, mother, filmmaker, photographer, and a musician, and I started in the film industry when I was a student at Drexel University. After experiencing my first year (and surviving it), I decided to go on a mission’s trip to Rwanda to a boy’s orphanage. A lot of my friends and family donated money for my plane ticket, so I thought it would be nice to film my journey there and show them what I did. But it turned out to be so much more, and that inspired to create my first short documentary titled “Umuryango.” That’s when I founded my film organization, Ferasha Films (it means butterfly in Arabic, I come from an Egyptian-Coptic background). I’ve been addicted to documentary story telling ever since.
Femme & Fortune: How did your time at Drexel University here in Philly help you develop your passion for film?
Amanda Danziger: I always tell people that going to Drexel was the best decision I’ve ever made. I actually transferred in from Penn State; I knew I was meant for a city and I wanted to do great things. Drexel is one of those schools that teaches you how to get what you want — you can’t go there and expect things to be handed to you. I feel really blessed that I went there because the school really taught me how to be a hard worker and still have passion for what I do and love.
Femme & Fortune: What have been some of your proudest moments from founding Ferasha Films?
Amanda Danziger:Recently it’s been working on my first feature film, “The Backyard Philly Project.” It was my first film working with a crew, and I am so proud of all of their had work and dedication to the project (the team works on a volunteer basis). We have heard nothing but good things since our world premiere this past May, and that’s really exciting for me.
Femme & Fortune: Give us a little synopsis about “The Backyard Philly Project.” Why would you recommend someone to go and watch the screening this weekend?
Amanda Danziger: “The Backyard Philly Project” is about four teens living in the projects of Penn Town (7th and Green Street). We gave each teen their own video camera to film their own lives, a perspective that our crew would never have been able to capture. The teens center their lives at The Helping Hand Rescue Mission which is located in the neighborhood. I would recommend this to anyone who is living in a city (not just Philly), suburbs, or the country. We’ve stereotyped the average American inner-city teen and profiled them to what the mainstream news reports. It’s new perspective of a culture that’s largely closed and distant from what many middle class people see.
Femme & Fortune: What’s your favorite aspect about the arts/film industry in Philadelphia? Also, if you could change one thing about it, what would it be?
Amanda Danziger: It’s smaller than you think! Once you start networking you start to realize everyone knows each other here — and that’s what I like most about it, it’s a community. But if I could change one thing, I would make sure we start networking beyond our city and start branching out more.
Femme & Fortune: And before we end, what’s your favorite Philly neighborhood and why?
Amanda Danziger: Northern Liberties has started to grow on me, but I used to live in Fairmount — and all of my favorite restaurants are located there. I’m a big food junkie.
Thank you so much to Amanda for taking her time to answer our questions, and make sure you all go out and view her documentary this Saturday, September 21st called The Backyard Philly Project!