Where the Light Leaks in

Kim Hoyos is a woman of many hats. The 23-year-old is a filmmaker, photographer and writer—and she also runs The Light Leaks, a small business focused on lifting up female and gender non-conforming filmmakers.

Hoyos speaks at an event. (Bridget Badore)

Hoyos started TLL out of her dorm room two years ago, when she was a junior at Rutgers University. She felt a lack of community for minority filmmaker voices, especially after facing challenges as a filmmaker and photographer during high school.

“When I would enter the room with a camera, or go after jobs, I would get a lot of pushback,” Hoyos told Ms. “Everyone was cool with me having a camera until I wanted to do the same thing that guys did. I felt like I was constantly having to prove myself.”

Hoyos pursued degrees in Journalism and Media Studies at Rutgers, and as she studied the craft she was struck by the dismal statistics surrounding women in film. Even though women account for half of the domestic box office, only eight percent of the top 250 films of the past year were directed by women.

“The media we consume really reflects our outlook on the world, on ourselves, and on each other,” she said. “It’s our exposure to different ways of life, different ways of thinking—and if only one type of person is making that content, then it’s not reflecting reality.”

The Light Leaks constructs a new reality through editorial content—from interviews to think pieces to project spotlights of women and GNC filmmakers and creatives. (Last August, the TLL site published an interview with Tilane Jones, executive director of Ava Duvernay’s distribution company Array Now.) An online store featuring original branded apparel allows users to buy pins, stickers and tote bags. And TLL also hosts offline events including personal branding workshops, film showcases and panels with industry professionals.

The response Hoyos has seen from her own community has been “really overwhelmingly positive,” she explained. “I’m constantly getting young women and non-binary people reaching out to me for advice.”

As a writer and filmmaker myself, I’ve found that the Light Leaks community is a valuable resource. I use it to find people to work with on creative projects, ask for professional advice and reach out to other women creatives with questions. I’ve met people at jobs and internships who hail from across the country and have heard about The Light Leaks or read the website regularly—and the platform is only going to grow from here on out.

Hoyos plans to expand TLL in the coming years by hosting events in new areas, bringing on freelancers and continuing to lift up women and GNC filmmakers as the entertainment industry grows and changes.

Diversity is not an easy fix—it’s a constant process. Hoyos plans to continue showing up to do the work. “The lack of representation in media is an epidemic,” she says. “Why are people not talking about this? It’s really serious.”

And although Hoyos started TLL to fill a need for representation she saw in the entertainment industry, along the way she’s become a source of inspiration for young people like her as well. She receives messages on social media—questions and requests for advice—from other creatives on a regular basis. “The fact that people are trusting me with their art, their thoughts and their feelings,” she confessed, “means a lot.”

Hoyos and TLL are proof positive not only of the standing power of the next generation of filmmakers, but of the impact that comes from allowing diverse voices to share their stories.

“Representation shouldn’t just be a hashtag during an awards season,” Hoyos declared. “It should be something we actively live and strive towards every day.”

About

Lindsey Mutz is a sophomore at Michigan State University majoring in Film Studies and English. She has a background in comedy writing and film production and was fortunate enough to spend this past fall interning for the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Her passions include buying too many books and only watching movies directed by women.