Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley creates opportunity for women filmmakers

Since the silent film era, the Santa Clarita Valley has been a site for filmmaking. The area's most famous historical figure is William S. Hart, a silent film cowboy. The area has been the home of film studios and location shots ever since and is known as "Hollywood North" amongst filmmakers. Today, the film industry remains a robust economic engine of the community. And yet, women remain a small number of those employed in filmmaking and its support businesses. 

The Zonta Club of Santa Clarita Valley, USA, has been presenting the LUNAFESTâ„¢ film festival for ten years. In 2021, to celebrate the successful decade, club members examined local filmmaking and explored assisting local women who want to find work in the industry. 

A program was developed that would: 

  1. Advocate for women in film through celebrating their success in the industry and show the LUNAFEST films at an event that would also be a fundraiser.
  2. Provide service to those seeking jobs in the field through a free-of-charge conference led by successful women in the industry. They would answer the questions such as "how to break into the industry?" and "how to get ahead?" 
Eleven female leaders in the film industry were honored by the club at a glittering rooftop celebration. Community leaders gathered casually with a red-carpet atmosphere to mingle and network while enjoying champagne and hors d'oeuvres. 

A former member from the club's Health Kids Club initiative in the 1990s presented an emotional story. Sharing how their daughter received a substantial college scholarship one generation later helped the crowd understand the club's impact on women. Sponsors included several studios and film businesses.

There was outstanding support from the Chamber of Commerce, the Valley Industry Association, the SCV Economic Development Council, the Wm. S. Hart Union High School District, and the College of the Canyons. There was substantial support from the City of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County and generous help from the community's media outlets. 

The event was covered in magazines, newspapers, radio, tv, social media and had a digital footprint on all media. The evening raised a net income of nearly US$40,000 to be used for the club's future philanthropic activities to support women in need. 

The inaugural Lunafest held a conference at a lecture hall at the College of the Canyons' University Center. The three-hour meeting featured women filmmakers, many of whom had been honored at the celebration, to give advice and information for women seeking jobs in the film industry. The discussion was informative, engaging and extremely well-received. 

In partnership with the club, the women filmmakers will help young women break into and thrive in the film industry.