Creativity and innovation are the formidable alliance shaping cultural and social change. At Pond5, we endeavor to leverage our community and resources to champion equality for women in film and empower the underrepresented.
Our Juneteenth program is just one of these efforts. Since 2020, with Shutterstock, the Pond5 community has raised funds for several incredible organizations supporting creators from underprivileged backgrounds, two of which include Made in Her Image (MIHI) and Mezcla Media Collective. These partners have unique insight into community challenges and strengths, best positioning them as the leaders in implementing sustainable changes for an industry transformed. We love learning about the practical ways they use the support of Pond5, Shutterstock, and our buyers. Join us for a catch-up with MIHI in this article.
Made In Her Image
Award-winners in philanthropy and engagement, MIHI began as a response to the need for equity within film, media & technology. In the following years, notable partners have joined founder Malakai in her mission to build career pipelines and place representation directly into the hands of the young women & non-binary communities who need it the most. Read on for a chat with Jessica Ramirez, Director of Content and Malakai, Founder, as they reveal how they’ve been changing the narrative, one film at a time!
Pond5: What has MIHI been up to since last June?
Malakai: It’s been awesome, thanks to Pond5’s support and a recent grant from Goldman Sachs. We’ve been able to dive into redeveloping our staffing, curriculum, and strategy for community support and development. We’re allocating a working space for workshops and planning community programs for the fiscal year and this summer. As part of our curriculum development, Jessica, our new Director of Content, just directed our first educational series, supported by Panavision. I’ll let her talk a bit more about her experience going from mentee to director—and it wasn’t a small crew, either. It was a pretty big crew, and she killed it!
Jessica Ramirez: I joined MIHI as a mentee, as part of The Catalyst Cohort, a workshop by Panavision and MIHI. I started volunteering for MIHI, working more with content creation and assisting Malakai. That workshop, and all the connections I made there, opened up the opportunity to direct the content series Malakai mentioned. The project featured a lot of forerunners in the industry, so I worked with a very professional set and directed amazing filmmakers, which reassured me about my career as a director. It was also very impactful to see a set full of women and non-binary people of color in such a supportive environment. I know we will continue to open doors for more mentees like me to get that onset experience.
Pond5: We love seeing the growth from last June when you told us about your vision and feel like you achieved some of it! Can you tell us more about how your org utilized the funds from the Pond5 and Shutterstock Juneteenth campaign?
Malakai: Yeah, it’s honestly been surreal. The Pond5 donation and fundraising helped us allocate more funding toward key crucial areas of curriculum development. One of our highest priorities is to create free and accessible tools for young women and non-binary folks of color across the board, so the donations helped us hire on team members to support our in-house educational tools. I can’t thank you all enough for the partnership; it was just a lot of fun to collaborate with Pond5, and it was just cool to see that support from another arena that we haven’t yet tapped into as an organization. The reciprocity from Pond5 and Shutterstock has helped us see how we want to proceed with partnerships like this.
Pond5: That’s awesome. We lifted each other up and did what we both wanted to do with the campaign.
Malakai: Yeah. Also, with the Pond5 grant, we brought on integral consultants and operational folks for team workflow. It’s truly helped us strategize what to engage with further on future campaigns.
Pond5: That’s fantastic. We’d love to hear more success stories from the audience you serve or about other projects members are working on.
Malakai: It’s important not only to raise awareness of the org but also to have the agency to highlight other filmmakers, especially people from our database who aren’t necessarily lauded or given their flowers. We’ve been able to take mentees through a structured pipeline, having them rise through additional program cohorts and workshops, facilitating their work, and allowing them to create. It was a big deal to be able to hire Jessica as our Director of Content, which was my dream. She’s continued building the community through engagement with our content. Jessica is an integral example of what our community should mean. She has shaped the brand, and brought other filmmakers together. She’s a real addition to this team; she’s done an excellent job and has that fire that many of our other mentees. Jess, do you want to speak more about your experiences and some of your media projects?
Jessica: We’ve been reaching out to our ambassadors and mentees, asking them to share their journeys and the impact MIHI has had on their careers. We need to highlight people like us: more women and non-binary folks. So we’ve been creating that kind of content and bringing education into our communications. The last thing we worked on was our social media series, Getting a Grip on Equipment. We talked about the tools you need, like lighting equipment, as you’re starting out in the G&E department. We posted a lot of that content, and our community was really engaged with it. Whatever we post, we make sure to connect it to our curriculum.
Pond5: We love your content; keep it coming! How can Pond5 readers further help you and the MIHI cohorts?
Malakai: There are many different ways to support! One of the biggest is providing mentorship. We always look for volunteers and mentors who can be there for the folks we teach and educate. Volunteers can help our organization’s sustainability through workshop programming. Any expertise through the lens of women and non-binary folks is vital. Another pivotal step anyone can take is donating. We’re setting up our first studio space for community development, so donations would be amazing for this process! We just hope that when folks see us, they can also see the vision and feel like they can be a part of it.