Camryn Garrett began writing in a notebook when she was 10. Her first stories were fanfiction based on shows and books she enjoyed, like the series “Glee.”
Once she was older, she began posting articles online. Creating digital media gave Camryn the confidence to start producing her own stories.
At 12, Camryn applied for the TIME for Kids Kid Reporter Contest. For this project, Camryn had to write a story about someone in her community, and she wrote about her friend’s mother, who was a flower shop owner.
Camryn won the contest and wrote nine stories for TIME for Kids, including a story about the U.S. Open. She also received the opportunity to interview creators and actors during the press junket for “Frozen.”
As a child reporter, Camryn was shy. In her article “Reporting With Anxiety,” Camryn explains her experience at the “Frozen” press junket, which helped her overcome anxiety.
It started as a terrifying experience for a child reporter surrounded by experienced adults, and she missed multiple opportunities to interview people from the movie.
After another failed interview with Idina Menzel, Menzel asked Camryn why she did not ask her any questions. Then, she provided Camryn with information to help her write another story.
This encounter gave Camryn the push she needed to get past her anxiety to enjoy the rest of the press junket and have an incredible interview experience with Kristen Bell.
Camryn describes the creation of the book as an accumulative process since she began working on it during high school, and it is coming out as she is finishing college.
Although Camryn’s writing began with fun fanfiction stories about different mediums she enjoys, her work evolved to focus on the Black and LGBTQ+ communities.
Camryn noticed a significant lack of representation for children of these communities, and it became vital to her to create stories that included these neglected communities.
“I feel weird and lost without [writing],” Camryn says. “I try not to dump too much stuff on other people, so when I’m writing, I dump all of it onto the page. It feels therapeutic in that way. It also gives my brain something to do.”
Camryn explains that the most challenging part of writing is publishing.
“It goes from being this solitary [project] you do for yourself to becoming a thing you’re overanalyzing because you’re worried about what people are going to say,” Camryn says.
“You’re whole path changes once you become published because you cannot untangle that business aspect — thinking about whether this will sell, get marketing and be interesting for people to pick up. I think that can be hard, reckoning with what made you interested in [writing] in the first place and the business aspect of it.”
Recently, Camryn graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she focused on filmmaking.
Ava DuVerney was Camryn’s inspiration for becoming a filmmaker. She had no idea that Black women directed movies until the release of DuVerney’s film “Selma” in 2015.
Camryn spent time researching the many different Black female directors, which further inspired her after discovering how many films women in the Black community had created.
So far, Camryn has created two short films: “Night Falls,” which is available on her website, and “It Had to be You,” based on the song of the same name by Frank Sinatra. This project was Camryn’s college thesis film, and she hopes to submit it to film festivals soon.
Camryn finds the film industry intimidating. Still, she is excited to be part of it now when more women, especially Black women, have the opportunity to tell authentic stories that genuinely represent the Black community compared to blaxploitation films of the past.
Through the discovery of redistributed movies by Black directors such as “Alma’s Rainbow,” “Daughters of the Dust” and Charles Burnett movies, Camryn has learned more about the history of the filmmaking industry and the fantastic roles Black people played in it. This knowledge inspires and motivates her as she sets out to create her films.
The most challenging part of creating films is the cost.
“I don’t think anyone tells you that before you go to school,” Camryn says. “A lot of people make a micro-budget first feature to get their name out there, and a micro-budget can be like $250K.”
Camryn further explains that the short films students in her class made for the college thesis film cost around $10K.
“Writing feels more egalitarian in a weird way because anyone can write,” Camryn says. “With filmmaking, you need a team of people, good equipment and money. Most people don’t have those things.”
Camryn balances her writing and filmmaking work by creating a specific block of time for each of her projects and then alternating between her film and writing work.
Currently, Camryn’s primary focus is on releasing her new book and sharing her college thesis film at film festivals. She is also working on a couple more projects, but she cannot divulge details at this time.
Having only written young adult fiction, Camryn plans to write adult books too one day.
Camryn wants to remind other women who are interested in becoming writers and filmmakers that many successful authors and producers worked in different parts of the industry before they reached the positions they wanted. Learning about various aspects of the industry first can be highly beneficial.