It’s no secret that Penn undergraduate life is chock–full of student consulting groups and marketing clubs. Flyers on Locust advertise weekly meetings in Huntsman and GSRs are always full of executive board meetings. Students interested in finding more creative work outside their courses often have to look a little harder once they miss the one or two club fairs at the beginning of fall. One student group in particular is looking to change that atmosphere and add to Penn’s creative environment: Opia Films.
Opia Films is a new film production club on campus that aims to be involved in every step of the filmmaking process, from concept development to final presentation. The group’s goal is to generate creative, engaging and high quality content that has the potential to be featured at film festivals nationwide. While a range of film clubs exist on campus, from the comedic Late Night show to the original web series Classless TV, Opia Films is one of the few with the purpose of creating the type of content that wins highly desired awards. “I have a dream of going to the Cannes Film Festival and winning the student slot and sending everyone to France,” said Amanda Prager (C’18), the club’s founder. “Is that feasible? Probably not within the first year, but that’s the ultimate dream.”
Amanda’s initial idea with Opia Films was to fill the creative gap she noticed among Penn’s student filmmaking community. Penn teaches few technical classes in terms of concepts like lighting and sound in film production, so the club sees part of their role as taking on that challenge. By opening up a space for artistic collaboration, Opia Films hopes to reach other students who felt that these types of opportunities were lacking. With help from the Kelly Writers House, the club has been able to make that happen. “I think it’s gonna make a creative outlet,” Amanda said. “I know that other people feel that their creative muscles are atrophying. I saw a void, and I was gonna fill it.”
Another unique aspect of the club is its pledge to work with local musicians and businesses. The club plans to partner with student musicians to both include their music in the club’s films, as well as work on projects like music and promo videos. As far as businesses go, Opia Films hopes to combine efforts and produce creative films in the style of Dove body image videos or Extra’s gum commercials. “If we can come up with a concept that can raise brand awareness then it also helps us,” Amanda explained. “If we can help the Penn community, then I just see it as a win win.”
The group is even distinctive for its pledge to give equal roles to all members, as opposed to the traditional leadership structure that exists within most of Penn’s clubs. The club’s founders wanted to avoid the situation a lot of creative students find themselves in, where they are prevented from doing their own work because they are not in senior or management positions.
To solve this problem, the group consists of a number of individuals with unique roles—actors, writers and directors, for example—who each contribute something different to the club and contribute equivalent amounts. “What I really don’t like about Penn’s clubs in general is the social hierarchy that comes with being in a creative group here,” said Amanda. “[Opia Films] is much more democratic.”
Next time you’re searching for a creative outlet, don’t hesitate to look towards Penn’s student filmmaking community. If being featured on the front page of Vimeo or directing an Inception-esque film is a goal of yours, Opia Films just might be your chance to do so.