Amanda Danziger’s passion for film and cinematography began in 2008 when she was a student at Drexel University. She volunteered at an orphanage for street children in the town of Byimana, Rwanda. As a way to show her appreciation to those who donated toward the cost of her trip, she bought a camera and set out to film a short documentary, “Umuryango,” about the lives of the children she worked with, many of whom were orphaned by the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. After this experience, Amanda was hooked on the idea of linking together volunteer work and film. She recognized the overwhelming power of film as a medium to confront western culture with the raw living conditions of the third world. Ferasha Films was born. In 2009 Amanda volunteered to go to India to film her second documentary, “Threads of Hope,” the story of impoverished women at ConneXions, a fair trade vocational school in Kolkata, India. She received a scholarship from the McKnight Fund to finance the project. Her compassion for the poor and her visual arts talents have brought attention and awareness to the needs of those who live in the third world.
What are you up to right now?
After graduating in 2010, I started working on my first full-length feature documentary, “The Backyard Philly Project.” This documentary is the culmination of two years of filming, directing, and producing. It is currently being finished off in post-production and I am preparing to premiere the film this May at Drexel University.
What is it like being in “the biz” as a pro?
It can be difficult at times, but I never find myself discouraged. It’s easy to hear the world “no” in the real world, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up. You just have to pick yourself up and keep going until the world opens its doors.
How did EAM help you get here?
While a student in the EAM program, I took the opportunity to create my own organization, “Ferasha Films.” A lot of professors mentored me and helped me in my journey into the world of documentary filmmaking. It’s important to know that when you create a piece of art there are a lot of things that you must accomplish in order to make your creation successful. The EAM program really taught me a lot of the business side --- creating a business plan, raising funds, and the world of marketing.
Who are you stalking/hoping to work with next?
There is a school in India I’d really love to film a story at, but I can’t tell you anymore of my secrets.
Who is on top of your current playlist?
Iron & Wine
Any advice for current EAM students?
Don’t let college pass you by. These are the years that you can build something. Who cares if it fails and fails. This is the time to make your ideas rise. Don’t graduate into a sea of faces, stand out and make a name for yourself.