In an industry that is dominated by men, it’s important that women come together to empower and support one another. Thus became FFI, the Female Filmmaker's Initiative at Kent State University. The organization first formed in the Fall of 2019, driven by the lack of women representation in Kent State’s Digital Media Production Program. With the help of an award-winning filmmaker and Kent State professor, Dana White, FFI took its first steps at building a strong community of passionate female artists. 


Through FFI, female students are able to explore their artistic skills by having the opportunity to create their own short films and projects. This will provide hands-on experience and cultivate relationships that serve to be beneficial in the professional space. 


The Female Filmmaker’s Initiative gives women a voice.


Our stories matter. 


The Female Filmmaker's Initiative strives to build a supportive community of strong female filmmakers.




Juliana Butchko

Juliana Butchko is a senior Digital Media Production student. She found her love for storytelling as a young child when she would create short skits for her friends and family to watch. Later, she took a high school course that gave her the ability to tell a story through the lens of a camera. Her favorite films to sit on a couch and eat popcorn too are Donnie Darko and Titanic. She has been FFI’s Screenwriter for the past year and hopes to make Screenwriting her career choice.

Shelby Rabideaux

Shelby Rabideaux is a senior Digital Media Production student. She found her love for storytelling when she traveled the world during study abroad in Florence, Italy. Shelby was formerly a Fashion Merchandising major but realized that she wants to tell stories. She realized during her time abroad there are millions of stories to tell and would love to write characters people can fall in love with. You can find Shelby watching Romcoms, Thrillers, or her head in a book. In the future Shelby hopes she can bring to life some of her favorite characters and create new ones.

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Hana is a junior Digital Media Production student with a minor in Creative Writing. Since she was in primary school, quoting the entire script of a film was all she would ever do with her friends, even before she knew what a screenplay was. She developed a passion for writing before realizing she wanted to share her stories on the big screen. She enjoys endless discussions of the history of the Star Wars universe. Hana works with Kent’s Teleproduction crew and is thrilled to receive hands-on practice in the studio world. She is currently pursuing a career in screenwriting that she hopes to one day tell her stories to others through film.

Hayden Gresham

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Hayden Gresham is a senior Digital Media Productions student and has a passion for editing. She really dove into filmmaking senior year of high school in her video productions III class. Being a part of that class taught her so much and gave her the push she needed to get a career as an editor one day. She currently films weddings to give brides something they can look back on forever. You can find Hayden usually watching New Girl or How I Met Your Mother on repeat. She sees herself creating to make memories last a lifetime for anyone she can.

Addy Birkes

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Addy Birkes is a junior DMP major at Kent, with minors in Creative Writing and Italian Studies. She is currently an intern at 1895 Films as a documentary researcher and has worked at TeleProductions for the past two years, covering live sporting broadcasts for ESPN3 and Kent’s Flashvision. In addition to Female Filmmakers Initiative, Addy is also a member of For The Ages, an organization of filmmakers at Kent State working to bridge the generational gap.

Amanda Kazsmer

Amanda Kazsmer is a sophomore with a

Digital Media Production major with a minor in dance. She graduated from Fairport Harding high school in 2019 and will be graduating from Kent State with a bachelor's degree in 2023. My main focus is on cinematography but also have an interest in editing and screenwriting.

Olivia VanSickle


Olivia VanSickle is a Freshman Digital Media Production student. She has always loved stories of all kinds, including movies, books, television shows, animation, and even video games. She also loves being able to tell these stories through writing and acting, participating in her high school’s drama club and theatre seminar during high school. Her favorite movies include The Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, and Logan Lucky. Olivia hopes to one day share her stories with the world by pursuing a career in writing.

Ailene Joven

Ailene Joven is a senior Digital Media Production student. From a young age, she always strived for ways to be artistic which eventually found its way to the camera her 3rd year of high school. Currently, she freelances as a photographer and videographer when time allows and can always sit down for a good Coen brother film. Ailene hopes to take her skills into the professional world as a cinematographer.

Hana LeBrew

Tori Johnson


Tori Johnson is a junior Digital Media Production student. She has always had a passion for writing from a young age, creating countless stories and sharing them with friends and family. She dreams of directing and writing movies. She is an avid reader and enjoys watching sci-fi and horror movies. Her favorite movies include Alien and Halloween. Tori hopes to be able to reach new creative heights through filmmaking and share with the world her stories.

Kayla Pierce

Kayla Pierce is currently a senior, majoring in DMP and minoring in marketing. She has loved creating stories and characters since she was a child and even made her first “film” at a young age. When Kayla came to Kent, she was undecided and had no idea what she wanted to pursue. The

second semester of her freshman year, she was in a class that was built to help students that were

undecided, which brought her to declaring her major at the end of that semester. Throughout

these past couple of years, she found her love for video editing. The largest influence that made her

want to be a video editor was a class she took where they created and filmed a short story together but then they each edited and turned in their own projects separately. It was the first time she truly realized the importance of the video editor in the aspects of storytelling and that this was the role she wanted to have in filmmaking.