Female-led production crew tackles “Bigger Problems” – Annenberg Media

Talking with her friends one night, Shaina Franks realized that they face the same problems time and time again. When one of her friends de ella joked they should write a movie about it, “Bigger Problems,” an upcoming feature film with an all-female-led production crew, was born.

Franks, a sophomore studying drama and business, said the film tries to highlight the issue of “trivializing” and “disregarding” your own issues or others’ issues because they are comparably not as bad as other people’s problems.

“Growing up being a teenage girl, I feel like there are so many times where you don’t want to voice how you’re feeling because you feel like either everyone around you has something going on that’s more important or you’ve been told that ‘you’re just over exaggerating, you’re being dramatic,’” Franks said. “Especially when it comes to things like an eating disorder or a toxic relationship.”

“Bigger Problems” follows the story of three girls—Carissa, Delia and Becca—struggling with common problems for high schoolers on a bigger scale than they may be able to handle. Carissa deals with an eating disorder, but because she doesn’t think she typically looks like someone with an eating disorder, she considers it invalid. Becca struggles with alcohol and substance abuse, but because she isn’t struggling with hard drugs, she refuses to see it as a problem. Deep in a toxic relationship, Delia thinks that her relationship can only be considered abusive if the abuse is physical.

After writing the script, Franks worked with Lexi Brandt, a sophomore writing for screen and television major, to edit the script. Franks, also serving as executive producer and starring in the lead role of Carissa, knew from the beginning that she wanted a female director and a female team to bring “Bigger Problems” to life.

“I just really wanted the set that I was creating to be a space that was lifting women up and allowing for women’s voices to be heard because that’s what the film is about,” Franks said.

After Brandt joined the production, they asked sophomore director Isabelle Leonard, a film and television major, to join the crew. Since working together on a previous project, Leonard was the first person Franks thought of to bring “Bigger Problems” to life.

“When I read it, I mean, it made me cry. I felt like it was a really important story,” Leonard said. “I care about the subject matter. I saw myself in the characters. I saw people I knew in the characters.”

Leonard thinks that the effects of having female leadership have already made a difference during the production. Throughout casting, many of the people auditioning pointed out how “refreshing” it was to have an all-female casting table as opposed to a table full of men.

“When we had our potential actresses walk in, you would kind of see them immediately relax,” Leonard said. “As someone who’s not an actor, I didn’t even think about the fact that most of the time they’re probably walking into a room that’s majority men, and I just immediately realized how terrified I would be.”

Madeline Smith, a sophomore theater major, was cast as Becca, one of the lead roles in the film. She said that the most compelling part about the project is working with a group of inspiring student leaders.

“I think that things where we are inspired to take power and make the things we want to see, is so compelling and really drew me into this project,” Smith said. “I’m most excited to be in that environment, just surrounded by people who are all so ambitious and determined – just hands-on, ready to tell the story.”

Whenever Franks struggles with problems or feels alone, she finds an escape in movies and television. By seeing characters deal with similar experiences as her de ella, it is “almost therapeutic” for her, and she hopes that “Bigger Problems” can help people sort through their own situations.

“I think seeing characters who have these problems that are so common, but so comparatively minimal to the extent of what they could be, can encourage other people to feel like, ‘I’m valid in what I’m feeling and what I’ I’m experiencing it and it is a problem and I can talk to somebody about it,” Franks said. “I can actually consider this a big enough issue to seek out help because these people and these characters are doing the same thing.”

The biggest challenge for “Bigger Problems,” according to Brandt, is fundraising. The cast and crew will be hosting a second-hand clothing drive tomorrow at the Trousdale and Jefferson Entrance from 10 am to 1 pm All sales will go directly to the feature film. While they hope to reach their goal of $7,000 on their GoFundMe, they plan to begin filming on May 16 regardless.

According to Franks, they are giving themselves the entire summer to edit the film before figuring out film festivals to submit it to. For now, they are just focusing on getting the movie shot.


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