Forge Your Own Path Student Grant Blog:
"Thanks to Her" Short Film
Project leader: SAM ORLOWSKI
In the fall of 2018, “Thanks to Her” was in its beginning stages, starting out as a full-length script written by Pitt student Sam Orlowski. Since then, with help from the Forge Your Own Path/Personalized Education grant, it has transformed into a fully produced short film. With a focus on prioritizing representation, creating a positive and more upbeat story of struggle with one's own identity, and proving to herself that she could do something of this scale, Sam pushed herself to learn and grow through the process of creating this film. She has also been able to gain valuable experience in her field of interest while also seeking to create an impact within her community.
With the support of the Forge Your Own Path/Personalized Education grant, Sam and her team not only succeeded in creating a community impact but also sparked a number of positive outcomes that continue to influence those reached by the film. Notably, the grant enabled various film students to have immersive, professional experiences in their respective interest areas, spanning every aspect of the production process from location scouting to craft services. Additionally, the “Thanks to Her'' project provided students with an opportunity to work with and learn from professionals, such as a New York City cinematographer who provided guidance and insight throughout the film’s production. Also of note, the grant helped support Sam’s commitment to involving people of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the film.
The process did not come without challenges, though. Sam explained that the project required her to shift her perspective in accordance with its scale, as the film was a large undertaking that pushed her out of her comfort zone. While it may have felt daunting, Sam rose to the challenge. She noted that the experience allowed her to grow personally in significant ways, like providing her with an opportunity to become more confident in her abilities as a director, shooter, camera operator, and artist. The experience has not only enabled Sam to feel more prepared to enter her field as a young professional, but also to realize that she is open to a variety of careers within the filmmaking industry.
As for the future, in addition to its success on YouTube (nearly 300,000 views and counting), Sam plans to submit “Thanks to Her” to local film festivals and aims to further distribute it to women’s and LGBTQIA+ organizations. Above all, she hopes that the film’s message of the importance of representation resonates with viewers and continues to make a positive impact on the community.
Watch "Thanks to Her:"
About this project
"Thanks to Her" Short Film
This project involves the development of a student film project from script to the first screening. With a focus on diversity and inclusivity, this project will highlight the diverse voices of the universities community. Through High Impact Learning Techniques, such as experiential learning and mentorship, the student crew will gain the professional skills necessary for further employment in their field of choice.
Project team: Sam Orlowski (lead), Sam McCoy, Noah Livingston