About

 

About Girls Rock!

"you'll need a hanky and your Joan Jett lighter when watching 'Girls Rock!'" -Bust Magazine


At Rock 'n' Roll Camp, girls ranging in age from eight to 18 are taught that it's OK to sweat like a pig, scream like a banshee, wail on their instruments with complete and utter abandon, and that "it is 100% okay to be exactly who you are." The girls have a week to select a band, an instrument they may have never played before, and write a song. In between, they are taught by indie rock chicks such as Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney various lessons of empowerment from self-defense to anger management. At the end of the week, all the bands perform a concert for over 700 people. The film follows several campers: Laura, a Korean adoptee obsessed by death metal; Misty, who is emerging from a life of meth addiction, homelessness and gang activity; and Amelia, an eight-year-old who writes experimental rock songs about her dog Pipi. What happens to the girls as they are given a temporary reprieve from being sexualized, analyzed and pressured to conform is truly moving and revolutionary. (Hot Docs)

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About the Filmmakers

"every girl between the ages of 8 and 18 should be required to check it out." -Chicago Sun-Times

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Arne Johnson, Producer/Co-Director

Arne has been a film reviewer, entertainment journalist, film festival worker and screenwriter for more than a decade. But he got his real start in movies working with fellow 7th grader Shane King on the Super 8mm classic “Cala ‘n’ Ala Honey Baked”. They collaborated again 20 years later, as Arne wrote the screenplay for Shane’s "Park Files", a film for kids about native plant restoration. Along with Shane, he has hosted a radio show called "Doc Talk", about documentary film. Previous to this life of writing, editing and filmmaking Arne was an educator. He grew up in Portland, Oregon, not far from where the Camp takes place, though he was born in San Francisco. He now resides in Oakland, where he rarely uses the B.A. in English Lit he earned from S.F. State University, making videos for environmental organizations and petting his cats.

Shane King, Co-Director/Cinematographer

Shane has been working as a shooter, editor and producer for the past 10 years. He is now a principal in the production company Keela Films. Shane’s productions have taken him from steamy Amazonian jungles to some of the finest wineries in Australia and countless trips across the U.S. Shane continues to find the time to teach documentary production and Editing at The Film Arts Foundation, The Bay Area Video Coalition and at his alma mater San Francisco State University. His educational short "The Park Files" won 7 awards at the International Wildlife Film Festival. He was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where he met and started having grand adventures with Arne in the 5th grade. Now Shane wants to make a Zombie movie.

Liz Canning, Animator/Motion Graphics

Liz Canning studied film at Brown University and started freelancing as an editor and animator in 2000. In 2005 Liz cut and co-produced a Guerilla News Network documentary called “American Blackout”, which won a special jury prize at Sundance and has since won 5 more awards on the festival circuit. Having purchased an HD camera, Liz is looking forward to expanding her business beyond editorial and design to include production, direction and writing. The future will also include a return to her personal work and completion of her own feature, “Orphan of the Airwaves”.

Shane King and Arne Johnson Discuss Favorite Q&A Topic

The first thing we are usually asked at screenings is:

Why did two guys get interested in this subject?

What would seem to be an uncomfortable topic is actually a great opportunity to talk about the journey that led us to this film. The first, and simplest answer is that we are huge Sleater Kinney fans, and one day we went to go see Carrie Brownstein (guitarist/singer in SK) speak at an event with the artist Yoshitomo Nara, and she talked about how inspiring the camp was. We called the rock camp, and the rest is history.

But the real story is a little more involved. The camp, understandably, was suspicious and wary. We had to do quite a bit of persuading that we weren’t trying to turn the camp into American Idol. And in the process of persuading, we did a lot of listening. And discovered that the camp was about so much more than just kids with guitars. We heard about transformations, girls who looked to the camp as a lifeboat in the swirling seas of conformity pressure and bands of twelve year old girls that by the mere act of playing made grown men cry. And in that process, we forgot that we were just men, and started learning how to be better human beings. And in a strange twist, we started to see the fact that we were men making the film not as a hindrance, but as a strength. The film would almost be the charting of our experience (though we never appear in the film, of course) of having our eyes opened, and we hope that perhaps that urgency, that sense of sad but also inspiring discovery, will transmit itself through the film.

And so we embrace these questions about being men making this movie, because it gives us an excuse to talk in ways that men don’t usually. This movie was supposed to be about the transformation of these wonderful girls, but in many ways it became about our transformation too.