Watch the opening scene to Mirrorwall Films, "Doing Alright."
Turning over her wrist and pulling up her shirtsleeve, the Steven Spielberg quote "I dream for a living" is tattooed in bold ink.
Michele Hannon, a Temple University senior, described the day when she decided how she would spend her first paycheck and her career. She would use it to purchase a handheld Sony MiniDV camera to make a few small films, and begin to follow her dream.
While in high school, Hannon figured that if she was attending college for film then she should have a production company name to go with her work. "I wrote down a bunch of different names and kind of came up with the name Mirrorwall," she said. "It was in 2008, by this point I knew I wanted to go to Temple I knew I wanted to do film and knew that I needed to get serious."
Hannon spent her first two years in Temple trying to learn all she could about film; she was finally able to put it all to good use during her junior year once she had her core group of dedicated people.
A Resident Assistant at Temple's Peabody Hall, word of Hannon's Mirrorwall had started to spread to other students within the dormitory thanks to friends who attended prior Mirrorwall Film meetings and would bring interested students along.
"There were six of us who maybe came to our first meeting during my junior year," Hannon said. "By the end of that school year it was12 or 15 of us who were active members."
Mirrorwall Films became more of a collaborative group. Each member bringing something different to the table, rather its new ideas of what the budding film company should undertake or a new addition to their growing team.
"I wanted to be a teacher all the way up until the 10th grade," Hannon said. "Then, in junior year of high school, I toured Drexel University, loved their film program and thought it was awesome. I also heard Temple had a film program and thought, 'Eh, I'll go check it out.' I fell in love with the people I got to talk to and by the time I left the campus I was thinking, 'I'm going to Temple!'"
Hannon's handheld Sony; she recalls, cost her entire first paycheck. It was the camera she used the whole senior year of high school, but upon arriving at college, she purchased her first High Definition camera, which she uses from time to time.
Hannon and her crew of filmmakers soon started working on "The Mirrorwall Minutes," one to four-minute short films produced each month that showcased different types of films and styles of filmmaking.
Since the conclusion of the Mirrorwall Minutes last fall, they have garnered over 5,900 views collectively on YouTube.
"I look back on the Minutes as our launching point," Hannon said. "When I came up with the concept I thought they would be a great way to get us making a lot of different kinds of work, allowing the variety of filmmakers we have to express their own voices."
With the Mirrorwall Minutes completed, Hannon and Mirrorwall Films have big plans for the current year. A documentary web series titled, "A Man Who Takes The Place Of," about a trans man named AJ Young and his journey through the female to male transition
"We're currently running an indiegogo fundraiser to raise money for future episodes that we hope to film in AJ's hometown of Chicago," Hannon said. "All the funds go towards future episodes.Through the series, we're hoping to raise awareness about the transgender community; it's individuals and shares their untold stories. AJ's is only one of so many."
Mirrorwall Films also has a 15-minute short in the works that is due out next month; Hannon's senior thesis entitled "Doing Alright."
The story revolves around a young artist named Molly who finds herself full of doubt when her girlfriend, Rhea, suddenly leaves her for fear of others finding out about their secret relationship.
"We're already preparing a massive push for festivals and are hoping to use the film as a means to reach out and be involved with the LGBTQ community," Hannon said. "We've worked with a local gay bar to use as a filming location, and we've got a number of organizations we want to reach to share the film with."
Originally Hannon wanted to do the film as a short for Mirrorwall Films, but decided to flesh it out a little more. In its original form, the script had involved male characters. It was also, more at that time, a coming out story.
In terms of the character being bisexual, it's something Hannon recently admitted to last year and it was not until after I came out in October that the decision was made to make the character that.
"I felt that was where the story was always going," she said. "I realized the more I worked on it, the more I put more of my self in it."
Although the point of view is specific to a bisexual character, Hannon feels that this is something every person of every orientation and gender identity can relate to.
"Doing Alright" is a film about self-acceptance, Hannon added. "We want to really promote the message of learning to love yourself," Hannon said.