A Utah-based production company is gaining momentum and breaking gender stereotypes in the industry.
Apple Juice Productions is an independent production company that puts a focus on the inclusion and empowerment of women within creative fields. The group decided to create something where they had their own control over both the content and the personnel.
“The best part is you get to do whatever you want, and you don’t have to ask permission, you don’t have to have backers, and you don’t have to convince people that it’s worth their time,” says Amanda Taylor, the founder and creative director of Apple Juice.
The company has worked with 94 people, 75 percent of whom were women. They have created almost six-and-a-half hours of narrative content, which has amassed them over 4,000 YouTube subscribers and 500,000 total views throughout their 87 videos.
“The best part of being independent is knowing that you have a voice, and it matters. When there is such a small crew everyone can really show their talents and not be overshadowed,” says Cassandra Taylor, the cinematographer for Apple Juice and Amanda’s sister.
The group had the amazing opportunity to be a part of FanX this year.
“We are thrilled that FanX selected Apple Juice Productions to come and represent fangirls in a space celebrating enthusiasm for all things nerdy,” says Amanda Taylor.
Events such as Comic Con allow people to feel at home with many other people who share similar interests. While at FanX, Apple Juice promoted their “Lily Evans” series, which is based on Harry Potter.
“We were so excited to show Salt Lake our work with “Lily” and sit on a couple of panels discussing comics and Marvel movies,” Amanda Taylor says.
Geeky things have often been considered predominantly male-oriented fields of interests, so it can be difficult at times for women to feel welcome, so it is important for there to be something meant for women and talked about by women.
Cassandra Taylor, who is a graduate of Salt Lake Community College, is putting the skills she learned while she was a Bruin to make Apple Juice Productions successful.
“Through the Film Production Tech program, I had the chance to try everything from sound editing to directing to camera work,” Cassandra Taylor says. “SLCC helped me feel confident in my work, since the class sizes are so small you really have the opportunity to try everything. So, I would say going there allowed me to try things and learn that I was good at working with a camera.”
On the other hand, Cassandra’s sister never received any training specific to the job she now holds.
“I just decided it was something that I was willing to spend a whole bunch of time, energy, and money on; and it was going to be worth it in the end. I feel like it has been,” Amanda Taylor says. “I come from an artistic background; I did drama, amateur filmmaking with my friends in high school, and then I studied journalism and covered the arts. I was around it, I got to do a lot behind the scenes, and see how the industry functions.”
A large part of their mission is not only showing women in front of the camera, but giving women an opportunity to shine behind the scenes as well.
“Putting women behind the camera has not limited us in any way, all it has done is open up the doors for great friendships and opportunities for those people to hone their craft,” Amanda Taylor says. “I come from a lot of girls; I have two sisters, and I’ve always had a lot of girlfriends. I have seen the power that girls have.”
Cassandra echoes the sentiments of her sister, and says she and her team members are challenging stereotypes.
“We know that we are capable, and we may not get the opportunity otherwise,” Cassandra Taylor says. “Being a filmmaker since middle school, I definitely felt like a minority – which didn’t really bother me until I got to college and ran into a few people who didn’t think I was ‘big enough’ to hold certain pieces of equipment.”
Apple Juice Productions are always looking for other people who want to get involved; whether it be as member of their staff, as a fan, or even as a sponsor.
“If you are a filmmaker, if you have camera experience, if you’re a gaffer, if you’re interested in sound design, that is the type of stuff we’re always looking for, from female creators, to be specific,” Amanda Taylor says. “That’s a lot of what we look for and require; just the level of commitment that we can then take. It’s a long process, and it can be tiring; there’s a lot of ups and downs in the process of doing all this, so someone who is already excited and committed is really a bonus.”
As important as the creation of the content is, it doesn’t mean much if there is no one there watching it.
“We’ve built up a decent following of people who recognize us and know us from our Harry Potter stuff, and that has been really rewarding,” Amanda Taylor says. “I think it’s important for creators, who are doing it independently, to recognize that they do have an audience and that there are people out there, who are interested in what they’re doing, and appreciating the hard work that they put in.”