Foundation Helps Bring Stories to life
By Robert Wheaton
For young people facing chronic illness or long-term hospitalization, it is easy to feel marginalized from the world. Depending on their situation, it is often very difficult or even impossible to have experiences that other young people take for granted. At the same time the mass media often does not create programming that addresses the special needs of young people who may spend a good amount of their time either bedridden or inside an extended health care facility. A new organization seeks to change that by utilizing the media as a powerful tool for self-expression and communication.
Make a Film Foundation (MAFF) teams young people diagnosed with critical or terminal illness with entertainment industry professionals to create five-minute film legacies. It is the brainchild of two creative artists, who appeared to be uniquely qualified to fulfill the mission of the organization. The founders have long demonstrated a commitment to community involvement and to helping those faced with life challenges.
Tamika Lamison serves as the president of MAFF. She is an award-winning writer and director who has devoted her time, talent and skills to a long list of community-based organizations. These include the AIDS Marathon, Little Legs/Big Hearts and Inner City Filmmakers. At Inner City Filmmakers, Ms. Lamison mentored high school graduates in every aspect of film as they created their own five minute shorts.
She founded MAFF with Sarah Elgart, who serves as its vice president. Mrs. Elgart is a critically acclaimed director and choreographer who has worked extensively in stage, film, television and even in the circus. During a four-year period, she worked with critically and terminally ill young people at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles to create short texts based on their hopes, fears, and dreams for the future. This evolved into two anthologies of over three hundred "dreams" and more than 20 short films. The shorts were screened at various film festivals around the world.
It is their hope to raise $50,000 to create up to 10 projects inspired by participants in the MAFF program. They have already taken a significant step towards achieving their goals. The organization has received initial funding from Time Life's Time To Give Back campaign as well as individual donors. As a result, MAFF will shoot its first project this August. It is entitled "Put It In A Book" and will star Jabril Muhammed, a young black man afflicted with Sickle Cell Anemia who is also a product of the foster care system.
Muhammed, who also wrote the script, worked with writer Don D. Scott (Barbershop, Barbershop 2) on a story inspired by his life and environment. Actor Isaiah Washington, (Grey's Anatomy, Dancing In September) is serving as his mentor/acting coach. Award-winning director Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives, Six Feet Under) will mentor and direct the film.
Other MAFF mentors include Emmy Award-winning actress Laura Innes (ER) and screenwriter Dianne Houston (Take The Lead).
The organization is currently seeking donations to fund future projects. For more information about MAFF or to make a contribution visit their website at http://www.makeafilmfoundation.org
. All financial contributions are tax-deductible through their affiliation with the Filmmakers Alliance, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization based in the Los Angeles area.