It began with an email Tamika Lamison received: “If you could do anything, what would you do?” Lamison’s thought was that she would be one of those people that granted wishes to sick children. When Lamison completed Landmark Education’s Self-Expression and Leadership Program in 2006, she took on turning that dream into reality. An accomplished actor, writer and director, Lamison had plenty of contacts in Hollywood. It struck here–Why not support sick young people in making their dreams come true through film?
Lamison began by bringing Sarah Elgart aboard–Elgart, a director herself, was a perfect choice for a partner, according to Lamison, having previously headed The Dream Project, which produced texts and short documentary films about the hopes and dreams of children with critical illnesses. Together they formed the Make a Film Foundation.
“We felt that we could create the opportunity to help these youth share their stories and visions on an amazing scale by teaming them with industry professionals,” say Lamison and Elgart.
The films that Elgart and Lamison are supporting youths in making are not about their illness. Rather, they give artistic license to whatever the young person seeks to express. The first film, “Put it in a Book,” is the brainchild of Jabril Muhammad, a 19-year old with sickle cell anemia who has overcome adversity his entire life. Drawing on his own observations of gang violence in the Los Angeles area, Muhammad’s story dramatizes a young man’s choice between pursuing revenge for a murdered brother and choosing a just life. Muhammad both stars in the film and wrote the screenplay, with assistance from Don D. Scott (Barbershop, Barbershop 2).
Lamison used her Hollywood connections to bring some talented and famous people on board–Award winning filmmaker Rodrigo Garcia (9 Lives, Sopranos) directs “Put it in a Book,” while Muhammed was mentored by Isaiah Washington, among other notables. None of the talented cast and crew of “Put it in a Book” was paid for their efforts. The film is set to appear at a number of prominent festivals this June.
“The response from Hollywood and the community in general has been overwhelmingly positive,” say Lamison and Elgart.
For its next project, The Make a Film Foundation has partnered with the Make a Wish Foundation to sponsor a film by 11-year old Kansas resident Clayton Beabout, who suffers from Vater’s Syndrome. Meanwhile, as word of the foundation’s work has spread, grants from companies both inside and outside the film industry have begun to pour in.
“I had this idea in my head, but if I hadn’t taken the Self-Expression and Leadership Program, I probably wouldn’t have done anything,” Lamison notes.
To get involved, make a donation or find out more information, visit the Make a Film Foundation website.