Rebecca joined the Friends Publishing team in December 2019, and is taking on the duties of producing the QuakerSpeak video series. A graduate of Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., she is an associate member of Adelphi (Md.) Meeting and now lives in West Philadelphia, Pa. She was interviewed by associate editor Gail Whiffen.
What is your Quaker background?
I was very much raised in a Quaker household. I started attending Adelphi Meeting with my family when I was two or three years old, and spent every Sunday learning about our Quaker faith. I attended Friends Community School (FCS), the school founded by Adelphi Meeting, from kindergarten to eighth grade. I also spent a summer at Catoctin Quaker Camp and a summer at Opequon Quaker Camp (both are operated by Baltimore Yearly Meeting). I found there was a lot of overlap between my communities at meeting, school, and camp, so I was pretty constantly surrounded by Quaker peers living out Quaker values (as best as children aged 3–12 can).
While I took a break from Quaker education by going to a public high school, I returned to it when I went to Guilford College. Through my college years, I worked at FCS Summer Camp, which then led me to work full-time as an administrative intern for the 2018–19 academic year, where I got to dip my toe into almost every part of the administrative process of a Quaker school, including creating some video and photo content for them.
How did you become interested in making films and video content?
I’ve always been a fan of visual media. I used to watch PBS Kids shows like no one’s business. I grew up very interested in photography, which got me used to being behind the camera. It wasn’t until high school that I got a chance to experiment with video in my classes. My freshman year I was in a video production class, and my senior year I took a “Literature as Film” class that I adored. However, I think I started to become serious about documentary filmmaking my first year of college, when I signed up for a “Filming the Personal Narrative” class. That was really my introduction to creating documentary-style films, and it was from there that I declared film as my minor and tried to incorporate filmmaking into my academic work whenever possible.
Your documentary short film Break the Binary won the Social Impact Award at Guilford’s tenth annual Homegrown Film Festival. The interviews included are intimate, educational, and similar to the QuakerSpeak style of not having a visible interviewer. Can you tell us more about your process to make this film?
Break the Binary was created as an assignment for both the Guilford College Honors Program and my Human Sexuality class. I chose to create a documentary about the experiences of transgender and gender non-binary students on campus. Being a cisgender woman, I didn’t want to homogenize their experiences, nor did I want to speak for or over them. It was very important to me to be as transparent as possible with my four interviewees, giving them access to my rough drafts, asking for feedback, and obtaining permission to show the documentary at different events, such as the Homegrown Film Fest, at LGBTQ+ trainings on campus, or in classrooms. My interviewees put a lot of trust in me, and I wanted to create a platform that let them speak their truth uninterrupted. It was really an honor that they were willing to participate, and I’m so grateful for that opportunity.
What can viewers expect for Season 7 of QuakerSpeak, premiering in March?
Last year, QuakerSpeak, in collaboration with Friends Council on Education, received a grant from the Thomas H. and Mary Williams Shoemaker Fund to feature Friends meetings and schools in areas where Quakerism is less well-known than here in Philadelphia. Viewers can expect to see more locally focused videos about these meetings and schools across the country as well as content about Quaker education in general. This grant is such a great opportunity to explore communities outside of Philadelphia and other Quaker hotspots, and I’m really excited and humbled to be a part of it! QuakerSpeak will also continue along its original path of sharing personal experiences and vignettes from individual Quakers with the greater public. The vision Jon Watts had is still wonderful and meaningful, and I hope to continue its legacy.
What are your interests outside of video production and Quakerism?
Recently, I’ve gotten very into cooking and baking for my five housemates. My favorite thing to bake right now is either rosemary olive oil bread or chocolate babka. Cinnamon rolls are always a win too. When I moved to Philadelphia, my mom gifted me with a thrift-store loom, and my incredible neighbor has been helping me set it up. I’ve been slowly trying to teach myself different fiber arts, like weaving, knitting, crocheting, and macrame. I’ve also been taking a pottery class in West Philly and spend much of my free time thinking about the mugs I want to make. Besides my creative endeavors, I spend a lot of time watching and analyzing movies and television shows, sometimes with an academic lens, sometimes without.