Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Here is our latest film, for Yeshiva Sha'arei Zion, a new high school filling a very distinctive role: a girls-only Sephardic high school.
We had worked with Rina Zerykier, the school's founder and principal, on many films while she was the head of Shulamith Girls High School in Far Rockaway, and we were happy to hear from her when she called us this year as the founder and principal of YSZ Girls High School.
Rina first got in touch in 2014 when she was founding Shulamith; she had seen our "Dream School" film for the Jewish Day School of The Lehigh Valley. We adapted this concept for Shulamith, which didn't exist yet (so there was not yet anything to film visually), to convey what Rina's vision was, and to get people on board.
Our work with Rina for Shulamith was a success, and the school grew tremendously.
Highlighting The USP
Fast forward to YSZ… what we found so intriguing about this new girls high school was the built-in USP (unique selling point) of a Sephardic all-girls high school. We knew we wanted to make that the highlight of the film. While YSZ has so many incredible traits like college professors teaching at the high school level, interactive classes and a student-centered educational model - more and more schools have offered these things that Rina pioneered back at Shulamith. But to have all this AND to be uniquely suited for Sephardic girls - this was something truly unique to highlight.
Making A Full Film with Limited Shooting Days
While timing was short - we shot the whole film in just 2 days - our experience working with Rina helped her know in advance how to set up and coordinate our filming days beforehand so that we could get the most quality footage out of them. Instead of chasing shots throughout the school day, Rina and her staff helped us plan each shot in advance, so that the film day would be tighter, and more quality footage could be gotten in a shorter amount of time.
Here's what Rina recently wrote about the experience:
"I think film is a very powerful tool and researched many production companies back in 2014 when I was starting up Shulamith. I have a strong instinct for talent and knew back then that Shmuel was in a class by himself, and I campaigned strongly to use him for our new school. His films are just a better product.
"Shmuel taught me how films are made through our work together - and I wanted to do everything to support his work in the production process. What I found to be the recipe for success is that careful planning in advance within the organization makes a film day go smoothly, and also helps us cover all our bases so we don't discover later that we missed something. Also, minimizing classroom interruption so Shmuel can get the best interviews and sound is key."
Above and Beyond
As we have gotten to know YSZ and the incredible spirit of the whole institution (there is a YSZ elementary school, early childhood program, and a boys yeshiva high school under the same umbrella) we have been quite impressed by the warmth and dedication of everyone involved - and the commitment to excellence in education above and beyond the norm. We can see why Rina Zerykier was an obvious choice to start the girls' high school, as "above and beyond" is her modus operandi on any given day.