Shameka Sawyer is a filmmaker and founder of the 5 Shorts Project, a project that helps aspiring filmmakers to make their first short film, based in Philadelphia, PA. During the global pandemic of 2020, known as COVID 19, Shameka‘s brother was brutally murdered one block away from his home. In looking for ways to process and cope with her brother’s murder, Shameka turned to what she knew best, filmmaking, to work through her depression.
From teen mother to ivy league graduate, Shameka became a mother at the age of 16, but that did not stop her from pursuing her educational goals. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Pennsylvania and graduated Cum Laude. Achieving this goal did not come without its challenges. Shameka‘s oldest brother lost his battle with cancer and passed away while she was attending college.
In 2014, Shameka created the 5 Shorts Project. The project’s main goal was to make filmmaking accessible for marginalized communities. The project has produced over 30 short films created by first-time filmmakers; women of color created 70% of the films.
As the 2019 recipient of the Cammy Award for Collaboration presented by PhillyCAM, a local media arts organization based in Philadelphia, Shameka was proud that PhillyCAM recognized its efforts to bridge collective filmmaking with communities of color.
In partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Shameka produced the We Have Something to Say, 5 Films, 5 Women, 5 Shorts, during Black History Month, an event that landed on the Philadelphia Metro Newspaper’s front page.
To date, films produced by the 5 Shorts Project have been official selections of the Philadelphia Women’s Film Festival, Philadelphia Independent Film Festival, and the Hip Hop Film Festival in New York.
“I feel that this film gives me the chance to show the effects of gun violence on victims’ families. My goal is to show when someone commits a murder that murder affects the victims’ families, friends, and communities. The aftermath of murder does not go away once it is no longer talked about in the media. For all of us who have experienced this, the pain never dies. We learn how to cope with it every day. I hope that people will see this film and think twice before taking a life,” Shameka Sawyer.