By Nicholas Voltaggio
Independent film may be the most powerful way to influence lives and convey a message.
Federoff’s latest project is Gold Girls — an endeavor that doubles as a prerequisite for earning her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor attainable for Girl Scouts. The film, her first non-fiction piece to be publicly displayed, centers on four classmates pursuing their passions in the arts.
Kylee Strasser is an aspiring filmmaker. Victoria Fanning is a budding actress. Grace Prachthauser is a concert photographer. In the documentary, violinist Jessica Vogel sums up the magic of art that captivates each of them:
“The violin is my voice…I feel like an opera singer when I play onstage,” says Vogel, who was entranced the first time she saw a pit orchestra. “They were like ninjas hiding underground to make music.”
The film examines how these students deal with the realization that it’s hard to make a living in the arts, and it’s doubly difficult for females. Only 8 percent of the top 100 grossing films of 2017 were directed by women; professional female musicians on average earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts, according to Federoff.
“I don’t need all the success in the world yet,” Prachthauser, a 2018 graduate, says on camera. “It’s not my time. It’s going to come when it’s going to come. It’ll be.”
That’s a key takeaway for Federoff. It’s imperative for young women working in competitive fields to “go through all those challenges with heads held high” as they strive to make a name for themselves, she told Morristown Green.
Under the tutelage of Morristown High broadcasting teacher Michael Butler, Federoff has risen to become executive producer of the school’s Broadcasting Club, which manages the school’s FM radio station and Colonial Corner video productions.
Gold Girls challenged her. Nonfiction pieces, she acknowledged, have not been her forte.
Federoff said she loves how film can provoke “fear, sadness, joy” and all the emotions in between. To tell the story of Gold Girls, she trusted her instincts, drawing inspiration from her own life and ambitions and channeling successes of other accomplished young women.
She hopes other girls her age, and younger, find inspiration in the film. Seeing her real-life documentary premiere, for real, at the 70 South Gallery earlier this month was “surreal,” Federoff said.
Gold Girls can be viewed at the gallery through Sept. 30, 2018.
MorristownGreen.com contributor Nicholas Voltaggio is a sophomore at Morristown High School. Kevin Cooughlin contributed to this report.