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Sanford Alumna Helps Women Make Movies

Katrina Medoff ’09 has been working as an actor, writer, and producer in New York City, and recently, she added founder and co-director to her list of accomplishments.
Medoff and Tracy Sayre, an award-winning screenwriter also from New York City, joined forces to create the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge (WWFC), a women-in-film initiative that creates teams of all female casts and crews to write, shoot, and edit short films in just one weekend. Medoff and Sayre then help to get these completed films seen by a larger audience, and thus raise the profiles of all participants. The Women’s Weekend Film Challenge is a direct response to the underrepresentation of women in Hollywood and the harmful environment it creates for women filmmakers.

The inaugural challenge was held in NYC in January 2018 with over 160 women participating. It resulted in the completion of nine short films that used only women in front of and behind the camera to tell the stories of women. The second challenge in September 2018 required the culling of more than 300 applicants to 200 participants, who finished eight short films during their weekend. In addition to creating a film, the women who participate have the unique opportunity to network with each other, which will allow them to hire and recommend one another in the future.

From these 17 film productions, several have already been selected for major film festivals, such as Fantasia and the HBO Women in Comedy Festival. One WWFC film won “The Spy Who Dumped Me” Female Storyteller Film contest and was screened before the blockbuster movie starring Mia Kulis and Kate McKinnon in Los Angeles.

Medoff and Sayre have a strong presence on social media and have also represented the Women’s Weekend Film Challenge on podcasts such as: Nothing Shines Like Dirt Podcast, and Pink Among Men Podcast. They have also spoken on film-related panels. Plans are in the works, but not yet finalized, for future WWFC weekends in both Los Angeles and New York City during 2019.

Sanford connections are ties that are strong and far reaching. For Medoff that means an upcoming reunion with former Upper School history teacher Michelle Gerken, currently of The Webb Schools in Claremont, CA. Gerken has invited Medoff to her school to be the keynote speaker at a two-day conference on women in the entertainment industry, which will be held in February. In addition, Medoff and Sayre will conduct one of the workshops offered to the students.

As a student at Sanford, Medoff participated in the Sanford Repertory Theatre Company program in both the dramatic and musical productions. Also a talented writer, Medoff earned a scholarship to Bucknell University, where she majored in theater and French while minoring in creative writing. She explained: "I felt lucky that Sanford had such high-quality arts education and always poured so many resources into the arts programming. I had such great teachers in the arts, including Clint Williams in SRTC, vocal ensemble and chorus and the late Helen Vermeychuk in English and creative writing. The faculty pushed us to do our best while telling us that they believed in us."

The film Ask for Jane, currently in its festival run with a premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival, features Medoff as an actor. She was an actor/producer/writer in several short films, including That Very Evening (actor/producer), Ms Connections (actor/writer/producer), Lovestuck (actor/writer/producer), and Home Invasion for the Holidays (actor). Medoff is also the editor-in-chief of BORO, a monthly magazine about Astoria, Long Island City, and Sunnyside, Queens.

Medoff concluded by sharing: “One of the most important things I have learned since starting my career is not to wait for permission to do the work you want to do. No one is going to ask you to start your own business, write your novel, or make your art. If you are an actor, you could go on countless auditions in the hopes of being cast in someone else’s project--or you could take the leap and write and produce the movie or play you really want to create.”

Congratulations to Katrina Medoff for her many accomplishments and important, ground-breaking work on behalf of women in the film industry. We will continue to enjoy her work and follow her progress with great appreciation and pride.

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