A strong female lead
Meet Bridgette Yaxley, filmmaker and educator, Photos by David Turner
Bridgette Yaxley could have graduated in her junior year at Byron-Bergen Central School. However, she chose to stay, spending her senior year taking classes that interested her, including a film class. Since her first senior project for that film class in 1989, this award- winning, internationally recognized producer, director, and screenwriter has been involved in the making of several short and feature-length movies.
Prior to earning her degree at SUNY Brockport in English, Bridgette took classes at John Robert Powers in Rochester, which she regards as a tremendous experience. There she learned the rudiments of acting, modeling, set design, stage and photography makeup, how to audition, and more. While working as an internet news producer for NBC, she acquired the tech skills needed to understand and work in the film and TV industries. Yaxley earned her master’s degree in education and English at Brockport, and another masters in education (majoring in teaching and curriculum) from the University of Rochester. She is currently working on a doctorate in instructional technologies at the American College of Education.
An educator for more than two decades, she has taught in public schools (Rush-Henrietta) and has a wealth of experience in the STEM field as a multimedia specialist and instructional designer, becoming fluent in many instructional technologies that are also used in the filmmaking process. She was on the faculty at MCC from 2005 to 2019, has been on the faculty at RIT since 2007, and has taught screenwriting and English Lit at Nazareth College since 2012.
Entranced by film noir, science fiction, and the history of film, she has forged a career in storytelling and is always coming up with ideas for the next project. Her IMDB entry boasts credits in all aspects of filmmaking, both in front of the camera and behind. Yaxley says she is truly mesmerized by the power of the medium.
A master storyteller, her films feature strong female characters and stories that matter to women. “I see so many opportunities to tell stories about women that need to be told,” she says. She talks about “the Scully Effect,” based on research conducted by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which found that two-thirds of women who pursue careers in the STEM field were inspired by the character Dana Scully from The X Files.
Among her inspirations, Yaxley counts her aunt, an aeronautical engineer, who once told her, “Bridgette, remember, because you’re a woman, that means you’re capable of accomplishing anything you want! You can be anything you want to be.” Her other inspirations include filmmakers like Mary Pickford (actress and pioneer of the American film industry), Alice Guy-Blaché (the first woman to direct a film, in 1890), Hedy Lamarr (who, in addition to being a celebrated actress, invented the earliest version of what would become Wifi and Bluetooth), Jodie Foster, and Sophia Coppola.
Yaxley’s passion for filmmaking and storytelling has garnered her more than thirteen award nominations and three awards for her work over the past several years, including Best Original Screenplay at the Burbank International Film Festival and Best Comedy Screenplay at the LA International Film Festival.
Her current project, Meeting Duran Duran, is a feature-length comedy loosely based on a true story. The script won Best Comedy Screenplay at the LA Film Festival (2020) and was a finalist at the Burbank International Film Festival (2020), the Beverly Hills Film Festival (2021), and the Venice Shorts Film Festival (2020), among others. In true Yaxley style, the film features strong women—five college girls who try to score tickets and backstage passes to a concert by their favorite band. “It’s like a female version of Animal House meets Hard Day’s Night,” says Yaxley, and is a pet project paying homage to classic ’80s’ films like Pretty in Pink. “Films like these have a nostalgia for those of my generation,” she says. When we spoke, she was preparing to fly out to Burbank to attend an annual film festival and for valuable industry meetings on next steps for Meeting Duran Duran.
Yaxley has achieved a balance in her various careers and sees the marriage of filmmaking and education as a huge
opportunity. As she was growing up, there were very few women behind the camera in the male-dominated world who could be perceived as role models. Now there are many, and Yaxley is starting her own production company, offering valuable experience to those women who want to enter the industry—from recent graduates who may not be able to find experience locally, to women who have taken time out to raise families and are apprehensive about jumping in.
In addition to Meeting Duran Duran, there are nearly a dozen more projects that this talented, sought-after filmmaker has currently in the pipeline, including feature- length and short films and TV pilots. Her passion for visualizing women’s history as a legacy for future generations of girls and women shines through in her work.