Column: The next generation of storytellers

In 2005, the first homemade video was uploaded to YouTube and the face of filmmaking was forever changed. Anyone interested in making movies could easily connect with other likeminded auteurs and, through this online collaboration, tell their stories in a way that never existed before.jardine

In 2005, Gabrielle Giacomo was nine years old and most likely didn’t even own a laptop. But, flash forward seven years and she’s a 16-year-old award-winning filmmaker from Larchmont. She even has her own imdb.com page—http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5573920/. Her film credits include a documentary, 10 short films and one animated film.

Giacomo’s prolificacy is even more impressive given she only started making films three years ago. During a two-week summer camp she attended at the age of 13 at the New York Film

Gabrielle Giacomo winning Best Documentary at the Cine Youth Awards.

Gabrielle Giacomo winning Best Documentary at the Cine Youth Awards.

Academy in New York City, she quickly realized that her childhood aspiration to become an actress paled in comparison to her newly found desire to get behind the camera.

“Filmmaking is just another way to tell stories. I like to take current problems and put them in a new setting. With filmmaking, you can step outside of reality,” Giacomo said.

Gabrielle does it all—writer, director, producer, cinematographer and editor—because, at 16, you have to be resourceful.

“I like everything about filmmaking, but my favorite piece would have to be screenwriting. I’ve always liked writing short stories and being a screenwriter is just another way to express my ideas. It’s the birth of the film—everything begins with the story,” Giacomo said.

When asked her most challenging role, she didn’t hesitate.

“Directing. I know what I want to happen in a scene, but it’s harder to communicate that to others, especially when they are your peers. It’s hard to get people to listen and understand,” she said.

Giacomo’s documentary, “Farm To Table” showcases her school, Convent of The Sacred Heart in Greenwich, Conn., and its commitment to integrating stewardship of the earth’s resources into the curriculum. The school grows its own food, buys from local farmers and works to cure poverty by becoming self-sustaining.

Gabby and her friend, fellow filmmaker Morgan “Mo” Herbert work on a film together. Photos courtesy Gabrielle Giacomo

Gabby and her friend, fellow filmmaker Morgan “Mo” Herbert work on a film together. Photos courtesy Gabrielle Giacomo

The film won many awards, including “First Place Junior Division Documentary” at the CineYouth Film Festival, Chicago, Ill.; “Best of the Fest” at the Chicago International Film Festival, Chicago, Ill.; and “Official Jury Selected Finalist” COMMFFEST Global Film Festival, Toronto, Canada.

Unlike in her shorts, in the documentary, Gabby had to work with adults.

“When you are a young filmmaker working with adults, you have to prepare a lot. I took myself seriously and therefore they took me seriously.”

Her initial interest in filmmaking occurred during the two-week summer camp, but she credits the YouTube panel—www.youtube.com/thoseawesomemovies—as one of her main resources for learning and improving her craft.

Giacomo’s animated stop-motion short, “After Hours,” is her first animated short film and she learned the technique by watching other young filmmakers on the YouTube panel. She also taught herself many techniques online just by googling them.

This past summer, she attended VidCon in Anaheim, Calif., the largest gathering of online video viewers, creators and industry representatives worldwide, which draws thousands of attendees representing billions of online video views.

“I attended various panels at Vidcon, including one held by Phillip DeFranco, an online video blogger, also known as a vlogger. These panels helped give me a different perspective on sharing my creative vision. In the world today, pieces can be broadcast with the simple click of a mouse,” Giacomo said. “This is great because it makes it possible for your work to be spread throughout the world without cost, however, as this form of media sharing becomes more popular, competition for viewership also increases.”

These YouTube videos aren’t all big-budget productions. With the technology and software available today, a budding young filmmaker doesn’t need to invest a lot of money in equipment.

“I didn’t have a lot of equipment when I started. I used a camcorder and took it with me wherever I went. As I improved, so did my equipment, but I still standby the earlier work I did—it’s all about the story, the equipment is less important,” she said.

On Nov. 23, from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Larchmont Public Library, Gabrielle will host a Teen Creative Movie Theater where five of her films will be showcased, each award-winning and each from a different genre. She will discuss all aspects of the filmmaking industry, including how to get started and ways to submit your films to competitions worldwide. There will be a Q&A session as well.

The event is free and open to the public.

“I hope I can inspire kids in my community to make films, too. It’s a great outlet for expressing emotions besides writing. It’s a really fun hobby and I think it will get more and more popular as the years go on. I have made a lot of friends at filmmaking camps and we bond over our love of films,” Giacomo said. “I met one of my best friends, Morgan “Mo” Herbert from Armonk, at a film camp when I was 13. We work on films and go to film festivals together. She’s been very supportive of me. I would like to build a community of filmmakers right here
in Westchester.”

You can spot Gabby in some of her films. I asked her if it’s more of a challenge to direct yourself.

“It’s both easier and harder. Harder because you can’t see what you are doing as much. It’s harder to see your face and your expressions. But, it’s easier because I know exactly what I’m looking for in a scene. With an actor, that sometimes gets lost. They might not get what it is I want,” Giacomo said.

For more information on the filmmaking event:

http://www.larchmontlibrary.org/teen-creative-movie-theater-with-gabrielle-giacomo/

For more information on Gabrielle and her films:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5573920/

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“I’m always on the lookout for a great story, an amazing restaurant, an unusual day trip or a must-see cultural event in Westchester County.”

To contact Lisa, emaillisa@hometwn.com. And you can follow her on Twitter, @westchesterwand