In less than a year, Jasmine Kettenacker has made her mark on Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). Her distinct documentary style is unique to FGCU and has changed the way certain video stories are told on campus. One creation recently earned her a Suncoast Regional Emmy nomination alongside her colleague, Tim Clark. But before she walks the red carpet in Orlando this December, Kettenacker heads back to her native Missouri for the film festival debut of “St. Louis Slam,” her short documentary about a women’s tackle football team.
“I thought it would be cool to do a documentary on women’s football,” Kettenacker said of her film debuting at the St. Louis International Film Festival. “I wanted to do this justice and do this right. It shows women doing what they want and not what society expects them to do.”
Female empowerment has become a theme in Kettenacker’s work. In fact, her own story fits the bill.
In 1998, director Martin Campbell released his film, “The Mask of Zorro.” It received high praise from movie critics and the general public and is considered a box office success. Little did he know, it also inspired a 13-year-old kid from St. Louis to become a filmmaker.
“I started researching the film and got really interested in how movies are made. I eventually went to screenwriting camp, but I realized that wasn’t for me. I quickly changed to shooting and soon recognized I had a knack for editing,” Kettenacker said.
Kettenacker’s interest in filmmaking grew, and she enrolled at Hollins University, a women’s institution in Virginia, as a film major. While the technical skills she developed in college were vital to her career, Hollins helped her better understand how few women work behind the camera. A 2017 study by San Diego State University found that women made up only 4 percent of cinematographers and 11 percent of directors in the top 250 grossing films that year.
“There are women filmmakers, but they don’t get the kind of recognition men do. I’ve worked on crews with 20 people, and four of them were women. I got lucky with my last job because one of the two directors was a woman, and having that guidance was really important to me,” Kettenacker said.
At Hollins, Kettenacker also discovered her passion for documentary filmmaking, which often revolved around athletic storylines. In 2011, she created a documentary about a boxing program for children that is operated by the St. Louis Police Department. The film, “Rumble, Young Man, Rumble,” was her first documentary to debut at the St. Louis International Film Festival. Fast-forward to 2018, and “St. Louis Slam” is the second film premiere for Kettenacker at the 27-year-old festival.
“The festival is a great way to get your work out there in front of other filmmakers and critics. It’s also just good recognition,” she said.
At FGCU, Kettenacker has found ways to meld her passion for documentaries with her work.
“Our video team has partnered with FGCU 360 magazine to create digital content connected to the stories in the publication. It gives me the opportunity to be creative. We have two new stories coming up featuring a student hip-hop dancer and an alumnus-owned business. Most recently, we featured the FGCU Jazz Ensemble – that’s the video that garnered the Suncoast Regional Emmy nomination,” Kettenacker explained.
Much as she does with her work at FGCU, Kettenacker looks back on the “St. Louis Slam” project with pride.
“You have these women in the video who love football. They don’t get paid, and they risk injury because they want to do it. It’s the same thing with me. It’s like ‘wow, I did that.’ That’s the feeling I get when I finish a project. It’s something that I’m passionate about regardless of the money. I feel inspired by those women, and that pushes me,” Kettenacker said.
Kettenacker’s film, “St. Louis Slam,” is set to premiere Nov. 11 as part of the festival’s “Doc Shorts: Black Voices” showing.
To watch the short documentary, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42FvLHkN-EQ
- Watch “FGCU’s Jazz Ensemble,” which earned Kettenacker and Clark a Suncoast Regional Emmy nomination.