Help Gemma Go to Film School

Dear friends and family, asking for help is hard for me to do:

After years of working as a lighting and camera technician on various film sets, I am thrilled to begin my graduate studies as a cinematography student this fall at David Lynch’s alma mater: American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles. AFI completely aligns with my desire to integrate visual storytelling, collaboration, and technical expertise. It’s a two-year Masters in Fine Arts program, with only 28 students in the cinematography department. It’s a great honor, but the tuition is steep and, as a self-supporting filmmaker, I need help financing this education. 

AFI will be a crucial next step to catapulting my career in this tough-as-nails film world. The challenges for females in this field are even greater; currently, only 5% of cinematographers are women. However, this is changing, one camera-toting woman at a time. I’m part of a generation of female filmmakers hoping to broaden audience’s experiential landscape.

During my time in Italy, I sought out directors with whom I could solidify my technical skills. In turn, these experiences greatly impacted my professional development; the films captured untold narratives with integrity and insight. In southern Italy, the films I worked on brought together Brooklyn and Italian crews with African and Gypsy casts. In Berlin, my documentary film crew blended into the tapestry of the immigrant artists’ performances. In London, an all-female crew brought a young woman’s story to life. In the Caribbean, I swam, trekked, crawled and sailed to set; with the crew’s sweat and determination, we captured a fantasy world in impossible locations.

My international work has formed the foundation of my filmmaking principles: artistic integrity, political authenticity, and social connections. I believe that filmmaking is powerful in changing hearts and minds and thus I approach it with responsibility and care, hoping to create meaningful change with my own projects one day.

With the support of friends and family, I’ll be able to begin this new and exciting chapter in my career. All donations, big and small, are greatly appreciated. Besides my eternal gratitude, I’ll be sharing a visual journal comprised of watercolor illustrations and photographs of my adventures in graduate school.

Thank you very much for your support. It means the world.

Feel free to watch my cinematography reel.

Lots of love,

  • Miriam Arkin 
    • $25 
    • 57 mos
  • pamela may 
    • $100 
    • 57 mos
  • Alex Beahan 
    • $30 
    • 57 mos
  • Ofer Ofer 
    • $20 
    • 57 mos
  • Jerry/Marion McGovern 
    • $1,205 
    • 57 mos
See all


Gemma Doll-Grossman 
San Francisco, CA