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How The Light Leaks is supporting marginalized young filmmakers

Aug. 17, 2017
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True to its name, the visuals of the website The Light Leaks are mostly light gray, with a rainbow gradient peeking through in ribbons—on a rectangular header here; through the letters of a stylized title there. Follow the rainbow, and you’ll find the fruits of creator Kimberly Hoyos’ labor: a collection of interviews and essays by, for, and about female filmmakers in their teens and twenties.

The Light Leaks officially launched in February, but the idea came to Hoyos in late 2016 when she realized there was no online community or organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting marginalized young filmmakers like herself. “I’d met so many young creators online who I knew had incredible work, but I felt they weren’t being seen, and I felt that I had found so many communities online for writing and photography but nothing for video,” explains Hoyos. So she committed herself to creating one. The Light Leaks is a one-woman operation: Hoyos personally conducts interviews, recruits contributors, and oversees all the website’s social media channels. And her dedication has paid off in the form of exponential growth—sometimes at the expense of her pursuits as a filmmaker: “Oftentimes I’m putting more time into this than my own creative endeavors, so it’s a lot of me having to step back and just manage.”

Still, The Light Leaks’ audiences appreciate Hoyos’ dedication. “People are very happy that, oh, she’s just a regular college student also, or oh, she’s only two years older than me or younger than me or whatever,” she says. “I think it allows me to be more organic both in what I’m creating and in what I’m helping other people create.” The website is entirely self-funded, which Hoyos describes as both its greatest asset and its greatest drawback: “It’s not a site that’s making me any revenue and it’s not a site that’s funded by any outside media companies, so it’s things that I would be looking for in a site that wants to help foster my creativity.”

It’s in that vein that Hoyos has taken on her most ambitious project yet: Lens Flare, an upcoming filmmaker showcase presented by The Light Leaks. The showcase, which is slated to take place on August 24 at New Women Space in Brooklyn, features work by female and gender-nonconforming filmmakers—but it’s so much more than just a screening. “I wanted something that was definitely focused on the folks whose work would be shown—just allotting time for short Q&As with these creators and time to network and meet other creators in the city,” Hoyos explains. She plans on making full use of New Women Space’s unique two-story structure: “Sometimes I’ll go to like a screening or something and I’ll just wanna start talking about it—like, oh, that scene is amazing, or that actress is incredible… That’s another reason why I chose this site: if you feel a need to talk, you can just go upstairs and have dessert and talk to the creator.”

For most curators, designing a showcase around a revolutionary new format would be an end in itself. But for Hoyos it’s merely the next step in her journey towards empowering other young filmmakers. Still, with film-oriented goals of her own to focus on, Hoyos is in no hurry to grow the site beyond its means. “I don’t want to do so much in the first year or so soon that it collapses and dies on itself, so I’ve been trying to pace myself,” says Hoyos. “I’m happy that I’m growing into it.”