Meet this month's FEATURED non-profit, Camp Reel Stories!

Don't you just love going to the movies and losing yourself in a great story? Have you ever wondered about how a film is made?  Well, this month we're introducing girls to the art and science of filmmaking by celebrating the life and work of filmmaker Ava DuVernay in The Illuminating Filmmaker crate, on sale now through May 15th.  And what better way to celebrate this amazing woman and expose girls to film than partner with a fantastic nonprofit who is doing the big work of making filmmaking more accessible to girls! So, Camp Reel Stories!

GCC: Tell us about yourself: who you are and what do you do?


Esther: I’m Esther Pearl and I’m the founder of Camp Reel Stories – A Media Camp for girls. I created this program after working in the film industry for a long, long time and not having that many women to work with.  I love media, but I’m bored of the media that is being created and I want to see more films, television and videos by women and girls.

GCC: What is Camp Reel Stories?

Esther: At Camp Reel Stories 12-18 year old girls get to write, shoot and edit their own films, and we bring in women from the film industry to teach you how to do it.  In just 1 or 2 weeks girls can make their own film and also see all the potential career options in this industry.

GCC: Why is Camp Reel Stories important?

Esther: Right now only 16% of decision makers in the film and television industry are women and only 2% are women of color.  No wonder the films and television we see don’t get women and girls, right? And this has been the same for decades, but the good news is that now most girls have a better camera on their phone then I did in film school, so there is nothing stopping girls from telling stories that are reflective of their experience!

GCC: Who is a woman in film you look up to and why?

Esther: There are so many, but I would LOVE to have Sophia Coppola come to CRS. I think her films really reflect her unique point of view and yet really connect to human stories of loss, loneliness and hope.

GCC: What is your favorite aspect of creating a film?

Esther: The beginning, when anything is possible and you are only hindered by your imagination.

GCC: What is one job that is underrated but necessary in creating a film?

Esther: I think what’s so great about film is that all jobs are necessary!  It’s super collaborative, which is what makes filmmaking amazing and challenging.

GCC: What’s your favorite film?

Esther: There are too many to count!  But I won’t ever turn off The Breakfast Club, but I do remember seeing Point Break (the original, directed by the first woman to ever win an Academy Award for Directing, Kathryn Bigelow) and being blown away that a woman could make such a cool movie!

GCC: What is one thing a camper has taught you?

Esther: When I started Camp Reel Stories I didn’t expect the films to be finished, because it seemed impossible to finish a short film in 5 days, especially since so many have never ever picked up a camera. But everyone film gets finished and of the 60 films that have been created thus far many have been accepted into film festivals all over the country.  The only thing that continues to amaze me is how compassionate yet focused this girls we work with are.  The days can be stressful and they have to work together to come up with one idea that can be completed in a very short period of time.  And even though all our campers want to get their finished I have never seen anyone chose completed project over crumpled feelings.  Meaning girls will slow down to make sure everyone on their team is heard and feels like they contributed.  They will work through creative conflicts respectfully and not steam roll over anyone just to get their films finished.  I think that’s amazing.  We have girls that come from such different backgrounds, racially, socio-economically and geographically and yet they find creative common ground to produce incredible short films. I believe that’s what makes Camp Reel Stories so special.

GCC: What advice would you give to a girl who wants to achieve her dream where there may not be a lot of female representation?

Esther: Don’t be afraid to be the only woman in the room, but also don’t settle for being the only woman in the room.

GCC: If someone wanted a job like yours, what would they have to do?

Esther: Well my current job I had to create myself since nothing existed like Camp Reel Stories until I created it, so I think if there is something you want to do and you can’t find someone who has that job that can mentor you then you may need to create the job.  Don’t be afraid. Just get started!

Now the big question, how is GIRLS CAN! CRATE partnering with Camp Reel Stories? This month, 10% of the proceeds from the Illuminating Filmmaker crate will go to Camp Reel Stories. It costs about $1500 to send one girl to let's try to send as many girls to camp as possible! Subscribe today at!  To learn more about Camp Reel Stories, check out their website at!