By Amanda Scurlock
Boot camp participants pose with Access Hollywood host Shaun Robinson (Courtesy of LaFaye Baker)
Hollywood Stuntwomen LaFaye Baker is hosting a program this summer for girls of color to expose them to diverse jobs in the film industry. Through her non-profit organization, Diamond in the Raw, Baker will host her annual Concept in a Box Film and Leadership Boot Camp starting in late June.
The Concept in a Box Leadership and Film Boot Camp started in 2008. Young women between the ages of 12 to 18 can register for the program.
“In the entertainment industry, we do not have a lot of minority women working behind the scene in production,” said LaFaye Baker. “What we want to do is introduce these young girls to these lucrative careers and the opportunities where they can travel and just have a nice lifestyle and enjoy what they do.”
At the beginning of the program, all participants must pitch an idea for a movie. The best pitch will become a movie that all participants will help create. The movie they create will premiere during the Action Icon Awards. During the program, one student will receive a scholarship.
Participants broke up into teams, one team would write the script for the movie, another would manage the lighting, according to Ashanti Scott, a Broadcast Journalism major at Hampton University. Scott participated in the program in 2008 and was the assistant director of the movie the young women created that year.
“Having to give a concept to a younger girl rather than to an older adult, it was definitely challenging, but it was a humbling experience,” said Scott. “Everyone worked on the project. We had a team who did sound, we had a team to work on the writing,”
Their movie will premiere at the Action Icon Awards, an event that will take place in October, according to Baker.
Shammah Tatum received a scholarship for her efforts in the program (Courtesy of Lafaye Baker)
“At that time, at the Action Icon Awards, basically we provide a scholarship to one of the young ladies who we feel …exuded the amount of work that we were looking for, just an outstanding participant in the program,” said Baker.
Last year, Shammah Tatum received the scholarship. She was a co-producer of the film produced in the 2014 boot camp. Tatum monitored the time frame of the production and help keep track of the budget.
“It helped me understand that there is a creative side to finances,” said Tatum. “To see how many areas that money goes to when you’re creating the film, whether it’s a short film or longer film, it was just amazing just to be able to see.”
Various fields of work could lead people to a job in film and television, from architecture, to engineering, according to Baker. During the program, students will meet people from the entertainment and film industry. In the past, speakers included directors of independent films and writers from the hit TV show The Game, according to Hampton student Scott. Scholarship winner Tatum got a chance to talk to Fresh Prince of Bel Air writer Andrea Wiley
“The girls in the program would ask questions of the speaker and the speaker would give their experience and their wisdom,” said Tatum.
People with professions in wardrobe, make up and set design have visited the girls, according to Tatum. Representatives from Showtime, BET, CBS TV and Warner Brothers have spoke to girls in the Boot Camp, according to Baker.
One of the speakers have been Roqui Theus, 26, a broadcast journalist. Theus has talked to participants about the business and character building.
“I love working with the youth, especially young girls,” said Theus. “Growing up in big cities like LA, you aren’t always introduced to the behind the scenes jobs when you’re in school,”
The Concept in a Box boot camp is comprised of 25 to 30 girls. They will meet on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 P.M. to 5:00P.M. for workshops, participants will also go on field trips. Workshops will cover several topics in professional development, including branding, networking and communication, according to Baker. Field trips had included visiting the studios for Encore, CBS, and Pacific Blazer among other networks.
“Two years we went to CBS. We do post production,” said Baker. “We like to try to educate them all facets of entertainment, pre-production, which is the writing and developing. Production, action on set and the post production, most people do not know that that’s when the movie comes together.”
Participants visited movie and tv sets during the program (Courtesy of Lafaye Baker)
Participants get a chance to learn how to operate a camera and write stories, according to Hampton student Scott. In order to create their movie, Baker allowed the young women to use equipment similar to those used on sets at studios.
“We didn’t know how serious it was going to be. There was high-end technology there; there was cameras, we had mics, auxiliary cords, we had tripods. We had everything we needed,” Scott said. “I was learning that at a young age and that’s what I was taught in college,”
One of their field trips included going to The Camera House in North Hollywood to prepare for movie production, according to Tatum.
“We learned about what equipment we were going to be using before actually used it,” said Tatum. “We learned about different types of movements, different types of effects that they give when they
The Concept in Box is one of four main programs ran by Diamond in the Raw. Another program that is going on in the summer is the Precious Stones Mentorship program. This new program will meet twice a month for six months for the pilot program. Participants will be match to a mentor based on their interests, according to Whitney Davis, the manager of diversity at CDFTV.
“If you have that support system, you can do whatever you want to do,” said Davis.
The program encourages “a cultivation of a relationship between the student” and a professional that is in their field.
Registration for the Film and Leadership Boot Camp is still open, the application is online at diamondintheraw.com. Registration is on June 23 and the orientation is on June 24.
“I think this will be a program that will peak the interest of kids in the inner city so they’ll know that these opportunities are out there.” said Baker. “If they see people like me and the other entertainment guest speakers that come in, that will make them think that it’s achievable and they can also do it.”