Meet Sara Koffi: Badass Filmmaker

Editor’s Note: We have treat for you today! Sara is trying to make a movie I think we’d all go see, she reached out to us to see if we’d help her share her plans with our readers. Of course we said yes.

Hi! My name’s Sara Koffi. I have a favorable relation with 80s music, a complicated relationship with iambic pentameter and I’m currently raising cash for the planned dramedy film, Class Dismissed. Sharp blue pencil on lined paper with space to place your message or text between the linesClass Dismissed is aiming to be an inclusive, genuinely diverse film that will serve as less problematic media to its Hollywood counterparts. The film focuses on the lives of Christy Taylor, a plus size escort and her roommate, Aubrey, an overachiever with some coming out to do. The story follows their lives a few days before Aubrey’s parents are due for a visit.

So, why did I want to create Class Dismissed?

It all goes back to those days in grade school when I was the brown girl with the notebooks.

Granted, all of the kids had notebooks but I had notebooks for notes and notebooks for writing various stories. I wouldn’t even allow myself to write in a notebook if it was already reserved for a certain idea. My writing madness was organized, a trait that seemed to slip away between senior year of high school and freshman year of college.

After my grade school years of school spelling bees (what other extracurricular could I possibly be involved in?) and poetry readings, I continued on with my need to write things down as I entered high school. The major difference between my grade school writing and my high school writing? I was a lot angrier with the world. I would’ve chalked it up to general teen angst, but I wasn’t just writing songs about boys and frenemies. I was making people a little uncomfortable with my embracing the word vagina in public spaces. I was talking about sexual experiences without shame between classes. I was calling out my classmates for their racist beliefs in the hallways and dealing with the consequences dealt out by teachers and staff.

I was letting out my frustration with how the world perceived me and women in general. Between my time spent staring at notebooks, I’d gotten into the lovely habit of investing a significant amount of time in TV and films. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always been in love with the magic surrounding Hollywood and its ability to give characters a life of their own. With that love, came an unsettling reality: Hollywood did not love me back. Women of color with my tone of skin and my size were often portrayed as loud and (don’t even make me say the word out loud) “sassy.” Women in general ranged from emotionally dependent beings that had a problem existing sans a man or were “bitches” for being serious about their careers and not interested in a man.

The unrequited love was a sad realization. Even sadder was the fact that Hollywood was purely a representation of the stereotypes the general public are comfortable with. It took me until my freshman year of college to seriously consider changing anything about the media. I began to work on stories with more diverse characters and tried to incorporate more serious topics into the discussion. That’s how Ships was born. Ships was my first stage play, revolving around the loves and lives of four college roommates. A lot of the principal cast was African-American, with the supporting roles needing to be filled by minorities. The cast even called for more women than men. Little did I know then that what I’d created was not going to be an easy sell (and it wasn’t an easy sell). I sat on my idea, feeling out of sorts, until a production offer came along from an angel on Earth.

But”¦I had to postpone production.

I know, I know. What kind of person waits around for their golden ticket then decides they’d rather just go home?

The same angry brown girl with the notebooks.

I wasn’t satisfied with what stage play would’ve been at. Sitting on my idea gave me the time needed to come up with an even better idea. Ships was just the beginning of what kind of media girls with notebooks could create. I decided that I wanted to make something that had even more less addressed themes, made even more definite statements and could be easily accessible to all kinds of people without needing to offend anyone with harmful stereotypes Hollywood style.

This is where Class Dismissed comes in.

Class Dismissed aims to be a consciously created media example of the types of films that should exist in 2012. I always describe it as part comedy, because there’s no possible way for me to write a story about college kids that doesn’t involve the absurd. Making the film a comedy is about connecting with people whose laughter may get cut off too often when a negative stereotype comes on the screen. I wanted people to have something to revel in without that anxious feeling. It has dramatic elements in it, too, because while I do love making people laugh, there are serious issues that the general media enjoys brushing over or attempts to personify in a character (see: Straw Feminist).

My main goal with this project is to make a statement. I believe you can be funny, memorable and insightful without needing to drag out stereotypes. I believe that counter media is still very much needed, even in the 21st century, to combat the negative messages people get every day about themselves from 30 second commercials. I believe that with enough creators and artists and innovators out there with a similar message, there can be a shift in the mainstream media or at least a safe alternative. People shouldn’t have to accept being the punch line, even if it’s for the sake of entertainment.

If you’d like to check out the project or spread the word:

Thanks for reading!

Peace and love,

Sara Koffi

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