Bellport Girl Scout troop earns filmmaking badge

Gemelli Films invites group to a day of production


These aren’t your mother’s Girl Scout badges! In keeping with the rapid changes in the digital age, the Girl Scouts have developed innovative new badges to spark the imagination of today’s technologically savvy scouts and help better equip them for potential careers or creative outlets in the 21st century. The newest class of badges encompasses an even wider span of topics, including valuable lifelong skills which virtually everyone needs, as well as more niche vocations and avocations. These areas include those crucial to independence, where women have historically not been encouraged to excel in the same way as their male counterparts, such as financial management, guidance on career options in STEM, and helping to change the world through action.

One of the most exciting badges that has been added is Digital Filmmaking, which the budding auteurs were enthusiastic to complete during the first part of their assignment. The tight-knit first-year Cadette troop—in which five of the eight girls have grown up in since Daisies—visited the set of Gemelli Films, in Brookhaven, while they were filming their latest Christmas rom-com, “Holiday in the Hamptons,” on Tuesday, Jan. 17. The ambitious group of pre-teens was joined by troop leader Debbie Lena and co-leader Helene Mendoza.

Many residents in the area may be surprised to discover that not all movies are filmed in Hollywood or New York, or some other bustling metropolis around the world, but right here in Brookhaven Hamlet, where there is a production company owned and operated by writer/director Candice Cain. The aptly named Cain specializes in light-hearted Christmas movies at Gemelli Films. It was also a big boon that the girls got to see a woman-owned-and-operated production company thriving locally.

“Gemelli was happy to welcome the troop to set and explain to them what goes into making a film. The girls got to meet, ask questions of, and take pictures with the cast and crew. They learned about all the different departments, their positions, and what they entail,’ said Monika Mannix, supervising producer on “Holiday in the Hamptons.”

Mannix was glad to help the girls develop their interest in all aspects of filmmaking, both in front of and behind the camera. She enjoyed mentoring the inquisitive girls, and who knows? One of them could grow up to be the next Greta Gerwig, Kathryn Bigelow, or Candice Cain.

“The girls were great. They asked a lot of questions and talked to the actors, and learned what everything was like,” said Mannix of the Girl Scout troop’s first foray into filmmaking. Not only was this a local production, but it was also an ideal, wholesome set for them to attend. “It’s a feel-good, family-friendly Hallmark-style movie,” she said of their latest production in progress, which is a quintessential example of the genre synonymous with the greeting card-inspired channel. It is the goal of Mannix, Cain, and Gemelli Films to have one of their movies picked up by them. However, in the meantime, you can catch several of their other films on various distribution platforms such as Prime Video.

While the girls had a productive time on set, they’re only halfway done with earning their filmmaking badge. Now that they’ve seen how a professional set functions, it’s time for them to put what they’ve learned to use, along with developing their own vision and creative process. “For the digital filmmaking badge, the last step is creating a digital mini-movie on film. They need to make a short film, less than 10-minutes long, so they don’t use up too much space on their phone, or a 45-second stop-action with images where you keep taking still shots of it. It’s trying to think outside the box,” said Lena, who is a dedicated troop leader, going above and beyond to mentor the girls who recently moved up to Junior level, which includes grades 6 through 9.

Lena is always willing to try new things that the girls are interested in exploring, offered by the ever-evolving Girl Scouts, who are intent on keeping up with the times while upholding their core ethos of service, friendship, and mentorship.

“This is brand new. The girls picked it at the beginning of the year,” said Lena, who noted that they will also be working toward their babysitting badge, which is what they chose to learn next. Good idea, since that’s likely the first job they’ll be able to obtain in a few years—after being well-guided by their troop leaders and the Girl Scout code—and preparing to pay it forward onto the next generation.

For more information about Gemelli Films go to