Female heroes on film
Armed with big dreams and a camera, Diamond Bar High School class of 2018 alumna Marisa Umeh travelled across the country to feature female trailblazers as a part of Disney’s “Dream Big, Princess” project.
The project gave Umeh and 20 other young female filmmakers the opportunity to direct short films on inspirational women in various industries.
The participants then attended a storytelling workshop in Washington D.C. in July, where Disney, Pixar and ESPN producers instructed them in film storytelling, such as utilizing music and framing a shot.
Among the women featured were actress Emily Blunt, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and ESPN host Victoria Arlen.
Umeh interviewed “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts for her film, utilizing the iPhone X and MacBook Pro provided by the program. After interviewing Roberts this summer on the set of “Good Morning America,” Umeh designed the concept and cinematography of her digital short, which can be found on Disney’s website.
“I gained a more [holistic] understanding of the hard work that goes on in front of and behind the camera,” Umeh said via Facebook. “Every second counts in live television, and I was amazed how calculated everything was from the time Robin Roberts steps out of the elevator to head to [the] set to the meticulous work in the control room.”
Disney pledged to support girls’ leadership and empowerment by donating $1 for every like or share of a video containing “#DreamBigPrincess” to Girl Up.
The project reached its maximum goal of $1 million within a week.
Although she had been rejected from other summer programs she applied to, Umeh said she was ecstatic that she was accepted to the program to have the opportunity of a lifetime, as it validated her years of effort working on the Yearbook at DBHS and making films.
“After having this experience as a ‘Dream Big, Princess’ filmmaker, and witnessing first hand how powerful visuals can drive social change, I have considered being a social-impact based media consultant, a career at the intersection of visuals and human rights,” Umeh said.
Freshman Umeh attends UC Berkeley as a global studies and economics major and reports for CalTV, UC Berkeley’s student-run media group.
During her time at DBHS, Umeh was involved with Yearbook and created various documentary films about women’s issues, including “In and On,” which received an award at the Girls Impact the World Film Festival at Harvard in 2016.
“I am so thankful to have had this pivotal experience with [Dream Big, Princess] as I know it will tremendously shape my focus during next four years in university,” Umeh said. “Being both in front and behind the camera has made me realize how much I enjoy both aspects of the creative process.”