Filtering by Tag: female filmmakers
Back in February, Maggy Stacy and I were having coffee and decided to make a film together. Something short, experimental, to have fun and stretch our creative muscles. She said, "I have this Shakespeare sonnet I'm doing for John Moore's Denver Sonnets Project. Wanna check it out? Oh and I think we should do something unexpected, like shoot it in a nightclub."
Next thing you know, we were workshopping her performing the sonnet as if she were at a nightclub at Screen + Play, a lab for filmmakers & actors created for just such a purpose. We both immediately felt its potential to be a powerful exploration of heartbreak and longing as derived from Shakespeare's text:
When proud pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leapt with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight,
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.
Maggy and I created the story for Miranda (a nod to Shakespeare's character in The Tempest): it's winter still despite spring around her because she's missing her lover who is gone away, perhaps forever. She goes to a bar and in the course of the evening, thanks to the live music playing and a man she grooves with, she rediscovers her body, her sensuality, and a way forward.
From this idea, we attracted an amazing crew: 7 and Co Productions' Wesley Matheny and Thomas Jaeger (who also edited and shot the film respectively), Neil Lyons from Moon Magnet who got the extraordinary Syntax Physics Opera on board as the location and Sunboy, a group I'd fallen for at the Underground Music Showcase, as the band. Wes and Thomas suggested the charming Matt Block who rounded out our cast as the suitor.
Honestly, it was a charmed experience from start-to-finish and I am filled with deep gratitude to that all who were involved in bringing this story to life. Please enjoy our film here.
It's hard to believe it's been nearly 24 years since I landed in Prague full of that special hubris reserved for the young. I was there to study at FAMU, the world famous film school (or at least famous for those who knew Eastern European cinema). This was not the first time I'd been to Prague. I'd gone three years before, just months before the Velvet Revolution and was already under its spell. I knew I'd be back, but I had no idea then, at 18, about to head off to college, that I would return to make a film.
FAMU was an amazing experience especially at that time. Foreigners had just recently started to enroll in the program. Our Czech counterparts were eager to see if our savvy, democratic ways might rub off. Even in the year I was there that began to sour as they realized it doesn't, and we were just making everything more expensive. But I'll never forget the generosity and openness I felt those first few months as a fellow student.
I'd never studied film much less made one. I was not remotely Spielbergian for whom the fairy tale goes made films on an old 8mm starting at 10. But I had always loved film. Growing up in Arkansas, movies and TV were my windows onto the whole wide world I was desperate to play a role in.
It wasn't till the summer after my sophomore year, under the haze of mononucleosis, that I summoned (or perhaps it summoned me) the idea that I could be a director. I'd burnt myself out overloading on classes that dove deep into the intricacies of arms control and disarmament that were quickly unraveling as a new world order supplanted the old one.
I knew it was crazy to think I could be a director. I had no contacts in the business. No one I knew even wanted to be in the film business. Stanford didn't have a film program. I thought about transferring but I knew I had to finish what I started. So i went back to school and put my nose to the grindstone finishing up all the courses I would need to graduate a year early.
But I still had one requirement; I had to study abroad. And then I saw it: a blue flyer stapled haphazardly onto a kiosk just outside the Coffee House: STUDY FILM IN PRAGUE! I nearly fell over.
Three months later I was on a plane to Prague.
Three months after that I was color-correcting ALEXIA at Barrandov Studios. It was a dream come true, and I was hooked.
I wish I could say it's been a smooth journey on my road as a filmmaker. Alas, it is not the case, as it surely isn't for anyone bit by this bug That said, I'm grateful for this first experience because it gave me a glimpse of what a creative life could be like.
It's been enough to keep me going as I've dragged the negative from house to house, city to city over this last quarter century. Thanks to wonderful restoration work by Cinepost in Georgia and Wes Matheny here in Denver, I give you ALEXIA.
More than a month later, I am still glowing as I reflect on THAW playing to a sold-out audience at the first annual MNFF. It was truly a homecoming, after all THAW was made in Vermont. The festival was so well run and inviting to filmmakers and filmgoers. Lloyd Komesar and his production team, Phoebe Lewis and Kyla Jarrett, rocked it.
A highlight of any festival is the chance to meet and mingle with fellow filmmakers. In this case we were all first / second timers, which contributed to the convivial vibe. Making the 45-minute ride from BTV to Middlebury seem like a blink were Travis Gutierrez Senger and Sabrina Coulston, the writer/director and producer behind the haunting DESERT CATHEDRAL, and A24's David Laub, a true cinephile and mensch to boot. It was a treat to share visual artist Kate Tilton's beautiful home with fellow Film Fatale Catherine Dudley-Rose. Catherine made the formidable PARALLEL CHORDS, and I'm thrilled her film was one of the VTeddy Award winners. Lucky audiences around New England will get to see it as part of the MNFF tour along with Conor and Tyler Byrne's FOUREYES and Rodrigo Rezende Meireles's JOHN THE BAPTIST. I love that Rodrigo's second night ever in the US was in Middlebury, Vermont. It was also great to hang with Molly Beitchman and Andrew Beguin (COMPLETELY NORMAL) and Miguel Matias (EMMA'S FINE).
I love getting turned on to new artists, and Bill and Turner Ross truly are. They were on hand to receive the festival's inaugural Cinematic Vision and Imagination Award. I highly recommend 45365, their first feature doc, to see where it all came together for these super talented guys.
The panels moderated by the festival's Artistic Director Jay Craven were a good complement to the program. The topics were timely from What Producers Look for in a Screenplay, Crowdfunding and Festival Strategy with the sharp, funny Katie McCullough all the way from the UK, to a look back on Female Film Pioneers by Sarah Lawrence Film Professor Kathryn Hearst. David Laub helped illuminate the fast-changing distribution landscape for indie films. Though it was a kick to hear Jay talk about barnstorming his own indie feature bypassing traditional distribution all together.
Last but not least, it was wonderful to see so many friends from Burlington, Shelburne, Montpelier, and Middlebury. I miss you all so much. Now to get invited back, better get on that feature.
For a little more on my experience, please check out my interview with Kurt Broderson for Reel Local.