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Meet Dunya Merell Djordjevic of Girls IN Focus in South Bay

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dunya Merell Djordjevic.

Girls IN Focus was born in 2019 out of the founder’s inequitable Hollywood film career experiences as a female actor/director/ writer/producer and her work as Los Angeles program director for a regional film program. When the program ended, receiving overwhelming support from her students and Emmy award-winning colleagues, her desire to change the film industry’s narrow opportunities for women galvanized the decision to create a new platform.

Co-led by the Youth Advisory Board, young female filmmakers, in pursuit of community and a support system to help them avoid Hollywood pitfalls, helped catalyze the assembly of a prodigious, talented and committed board of directors focused on the mission of changing female filmmakers’ futures. When the pandemic stopped Hollywood and the world at large in its tracks, Girls IN Focus seamlessly scaled up their vision and cast an even bigger net to launch a remote, filmmaking program, World IN Focus. Working tirelessly to enhance digital engagement, they were sponsored by a cutting edge, cloud-based editing software company. The Pilot program and inaugural World IN Focus three-week intensive produced two films thus proving that remote filmmaking was not only possible but made high-quality films and effective, personalized education. Zoom classes led by award-winning Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions staff, a Madison Wells Media development executive, Emmy winner Brent Forrester and award winning filmmaker Sarah Moshman were just a few workshop leader highlights.

For the Pilot program’s moving film, “The Sound of Justice”, three teenage filmmakers explored the topic of social justice. Their film has been accepted and will premiere at the prestigious OC Premiere Multicultural Film Fiesta (Oct. 15-25, 2020). You can also watch “The Children of Today”, a poignant narrative film on personal issues that haunt teenagers made by four young filmmakers during our remote filmmaking program World IN Focus, on our website www.Girls-IN-Focus.com.

Join our email list for our newsletter and information about our November 21st, stop motion weekend workshop with the amazing filmmaker Sofia Garza-Barba! Our first annual “Box Event Fund; Girls Night In” fundraiser (not just for girls) will screen films on Sat. Nov. 14, 2020 and send ticketed buyers a box of movie treats and goodies to enjoy with a group screening and Q & A with filmmakers afterwards. 100% of funds raised will go to support non-profit Girls IN Focus. Register for both events on Eventbrite or our website.  Follow us on social media and get involved!

Has it been a smooth road?
Although we took a leap of faith that remote filmmaking can be done successfully online, allowing girls to continue their collaborative, creative process, to bond and learn in a safe space, it wasn’t without its growing pains but we are so glad that we did. There were tough technical challenges that came with pioneering a first of its kind program. Without much time for preparation, we started the online program and discovered the hard way during our Pilot that sending footage to edit back and forth between the filmmakers required more space and memory than some of the filmmakers had at their disposal. We found creative solutions to both storylines and technical challenges of sharing footage, making the stressful process all worthwhile and a great learning and creative experience… not to mention the remarkable two films that were completed in just three weeks from idea to polished festival ready film. We are now able to scale up our online program year-round.  We have added our monthly workshops starting in Nov. 2020 and look forward to rolling out our “Advanced Focus” invitation-only, professional level feature film program.  What has emerged from this creative think tank is “Focus/50”, a professional film production arm of the organization led by the older experienced female filmmakers of Girls IN Focus.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Girls IN Focus – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
As a filmmaker, my strengths are creating a safe space for the creative process and teaching storytelling. As a producer bringing people together has always come easily but to find the talented women that converged to make a difference in the world with Girls IN Focus was truly miraculous. When we joined forces as the board of directors, Girls IN Focus took on a life of its own moving at lightning speed. After just six months, not only have we set up our non-profit but also have completed two summer programs with more programming and events coming up all through Fall.

It’s really the synergy of the group and the joy of having come together to learn, grow and support the next generation of filmmakers in shattering the gender gap. We enjoy each other’s company and working around the clock doesn’t seem like work. I have to say I’m most proud of our young filmmakers who prove that given the right environment: a safe place to create and some professional guidance and inspiration they can create films in just three weeks defying all norms.

Our first fundraiser, the Box Event: Girls Night In is a fun film screening on Nov. 14th, 2020 6pm and for the price of your admission, you get a box of goodies delivered to your doorstep and Q&A with the filmmakers.

Registration is limited for “It’s Alive”, a stop motion workshop by award-winning filmmaker Sofia Garza-Barba On November 21st. 10-12pm PST. Register on Eventbrite.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the culture of LA, the art and food and creative, innovative spirit. I do wish it had more walking and huge parks. As I left Hollywood to move to the South Bay, I find less places to converge. I miss the museums and big parks like Griffith Park. I do love the ocean at my beck and call, that partially makes up for it.

Pricing:

  • Box Event:Girls Night IN Fundraiser – $49 buy tickets on Eventbrite…Support our work 100% proceeds go to programming and financial aid to girls 12-18 years old based on need.
  • Stop motion workshop “It’s Alive” with award winning filmmaker Sofia Garza-Barba $45-Nov. 21, 2020, Register on Eventbrite
  • 2-Day Lighting workshop, “Got a Light” Jan 16th&23rd, 10am-1pm PST $95

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

1. Angela Hadnagy 2. Rocio Melara 3. Elaine Ng 4. Madeline Tello 5. Brent Forrester 6. Sarah Moshman 7. Seana Hadnagy 8. Jennifer Tocquigny

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