Female-friendly filmmakers from SLC show their group powers at FanXSep 21, 2018 16h25 ● By Jana Klopsch
Crew members Victoria Entenfellner, Cassandra Taylor and Kailee Brown during production. (Courtesy Amanda Taylor/Apple Juice Productions)
By Spencer W. Belnap | [email protected]
A company of female filmmakers from Salt Lake City is starting to make a name for themselves in the world of YouTube and fan films.
Apple Juice Productions strives to give women in Utah a shot at filmmaking and expand the community’s film scene. It was founded when a group of friends wanted to create a web series based on Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey.” Since 2016, they have produced dozens of videos, including that Jane Austen web adaptation, a series inspired by characters from “The Babysitter’s Club,” and also a “Harry Potter” series of fan films. They achieved a milestone this year with a screening and panel participations at Salt Lake’s popular FanX event.
“I grew up in Sugar House and attended Highland High,” Creative Director and Founder Amanda Taylor said. “I was in drama and made films with friends. When two of my good friends came to me with the idea for a web series, we knew production in Utah would be easier than in Los Angeles and New York where they lived.”
The friends formed Apple Juice Productions, or AJP, and their mission of “creating refreshing narrative stories for women, by women” was born. Their videos have gained thousands of followers on YouTube, and tallied more than half a million views. Dozens of people have participated in their productions, with 75 percent of them being female.
“We need more women in the film industry to give us different stories and broader perspectives,” Technical Director Kailee Brown said. “If you want something, go out and make it happen for yourself. There are so many resources out there now. Use those resources and learn whatever you can so you can get better every day.”
Taylor and Brown and others all wear multiple hats on a production. For the most part they shoot on nights and weekends, and work around the schedules of their volunteer actors. They’ll film at group member’s houses or local businesses. AJP shot the film, “Lily Evans and the Stroke of Midnight” around Labor Day weekend last year and released it in time for Halloween 2017. As “Harry Potter” fans will know, Halloween is the anniversary of James and Lily Potter’s deaths. It is the first of its kind of fan films to feature a female lead. This is the project that was screened at 2018’s FanX, the event formerly known as Salt Lake Comic Con.
“All our content falls in the nerdy fan girl family,” Taylor said. “After years of waving our hands in the faces of the powers that be, we finally offered up ‘Stroke of Midnight’ and caught their attention. We’re honored for a screening, but also to represent women on our two panels about feminism in the geek sphere.”
The women hope to attract more fans and more filmmakers from their presence at FanX. The weekend in September provided ample opportunity to spread their mission and continue their progress in the film and fandom communities. The panels they participated on included themes such as “Comics for Girls Afraid to Comic” and “Feminism in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”
With new doors opening up, and opportunities to show their films to a broader audience, AJP has no plans of slowing down. They will release the final installment of the Lily Evans series, “Lily Evans and the Magic Hour” on Halloween of this year. They also have some plans that are in the writing and pitching phases.
Wherever their imaginations take them next, they invite any young and female aspiring filmmakers to contact them. Some of them studied film in school or outside programs, but some are self-taught or gained most of their experience with the AJP group. They can be reached through their website, www.applejuicepro.com, or their YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/applejuiceproductions.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a supportive group around you,” Taylor said. “We’ve got the whole female-friendly thing on lock. It can be scary to jump in and start, but we’ve already done that, so come join us.”