Crossett videographer wants to use her platform to give others in the community a voice.
Carly Cooper of Crossett first got involved with film in the Crossett High School East program.
“I filmed a movie in high school about bullying called, ‘Metamorphosis,’ and my EAST teacher Mr. Bradford took it with us to the EAST conference my senior year,” Cooper said.
A film instructor from South Arkansas Univerisity was present at the conference and encouraged Cooper to come study film at SAU Tech.
“I graduated high school in April and was on my first movie set in June,” Cooper said.
Her first film was a low budget Arkansas film.
“I worked in the art department where you build and decorate the sets,” Cooper said.
After that, she went on to work on a few more independent Arkansas films as an office assistant, a wardrobe supervisor, and costume designer. Cooper also did interview work for the Hot Spring Documentary film festival and television work for MTV.
“I was the first student from my college to land a spot on a feature film,” Cooper said.
She started in the wardrobe department and from there moved to the costume designer’s assistant.
“It was a true ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ relationship. She was the director’s wife. I was at their house before five every morning and the last to go home every night,” Cooper said. “ I got to see all angles of filming from that job — editing, directing, scripts, camera, sound, all of it.”
Cooper said she worked in the film industry for four years before coming home to start a videography business. She credits her years away with giving her a well-rounded perspective of the whole film industry.
Now she wants to use that experience and apply it towards something she is very passionate about in the community.
“The plan for this film is to give our black community and their friends a chance to speak, and I hope it’s a chance to cut away a lot of racist roots I know our community has,” Cooper said.
Cooper said she wants to create a film that can bring people together. If there is a chance that hearing from someone local could change someone’s heart, she wants to create that opportunity.
“All I’m trying to do is give the black community some kind of platform,” Cooper said.
Her current plan for the film to be make it in a documentary style, but she said that gives her wide range of directions to move with it.
“Documentaries have a mind of their own so I can’t say exactly how it will be, but I just want to tell the story the best I can and I just want people to understand what the BlackLivesMatter movement is,” Cooper said. “BLM, It’s not saying all lives don’t matter and I hope that will come across in the film. I hope peace, love, community, and change will come from this.”
Cooper is working with members of the community to reach out to those who might be interested in working with her on this.
Cooper said she believes that the best way to get the message about why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important is to hear the story of a black person. By adding a community element she’s hoping it will touch the people of this area once they hear from the people they work with, people they see at the grocery store and even the people they see in the stadium at local sporting events. Hearing someone you know tell a story has a little more weight than hearing it from a stranger, she said .
Cooper said that in her house she never learned racism, but she learned soon that not all homes were like hers.
“My mother taught us to love all and she didn’t tolerate racism or bullying,” Cooper said.
However, that didn’t keep Cooper from seeing that racism existed elsewhere in the community. Cooper said she quickly learned that not only did it exist, but that there were a lot of people who were in denial about it.
“I’m a white girl. You don’t hide your racism from me and so I know that it’s real in our community.” Cooper said. “I want to be someone who helps change that.”
Cooper said that she’s always wanted to find a way to bring people together and eliminate the gap in understanding betwen some people’s experiences and the issues that black people face everyday.
Cooper said everyone’s voice is important a nd she wants to give the black community a place to express themselves and hopefully more will understand what they have failed to before. Cooper is asking for anyone who wants to join her on this journey to reach out.
“Your voice is important. Bring your emotions with you— happy, angry, sad, whatever it is you’re feeling. I don’t want people to be nervous on camera and I want to do all I can to make this easy and I will have a safe space set up,” Cooper said.
The interviews can be on whatever topic a person chooses. Cooper wants people to feel welcome to talk about any topic they choose whether it be trials they faced growing up, why they feel so passionately about black lives matter, or simply tell a relatable story. It can be as simple or as deep as they want it to be.
“I say this to say I am your friend. I have not been raised to hate you. I’ve seen so many people from our town show racism the last two weeks. I want to help and the only way I know how to do that is through film,” Cooper said.
Cooper will be doing interviews at The Youth Center on Juneteenth. Those interested in doing an interview may contact her through her Facebook page at facebook.com/carly.e.cooper.