Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Promoting Emerging Women Directors in Independent Film

When Kate Bigelow was the first woman to win an Oscar for best direction I was excited and felt that a chip was made in Hollywood's glass ceiling. but the reality is that women directors, producers, and screenwriters are still a scarce commodity in Hollywood. Less than 10 percent of films with a theatrical release were directed by women.
In the report,The Celluloid Ceiling: Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 250 Films of 2010, Dr. Martha M. Lauzen, Ph.D found that, "In 2010, women comprised 16% of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films. This represents a decline of 1 percentage point from 1998 and is even with 2009 figures."

I'm not writing this blog entry to be a "Debbie downer," it's a reality check. Besides, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the wonderful professional film organizations for women that  are committed to recognizing, developing, and actively promoting the unique visions of women in film, while also providing educational and networking opportunities that seek to advance the professional status of women. My short list includes, New York Women in Film and Television; Reel Women; Women in Film and Video; Women Make Movies; and Women in Film (Los Angeles).

While I was at the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival I met emerging women filmmakers and screenwriters struggling to crack their own glass ceilings. One of my biggest takeaways from the festival was that it gave women filmmakers a venue for our films and an opportunity to network with one another. I didn't want the connection I made to stop there. I met some really driven women who believe in the power of story and thought to myself  that we should have other outlets to highlight our films. As part of my blog, I'm going to profile a women film director. The profile will include a short bio and interview with the director.

I want to promote the women I know who are working their dream in film and look forward to sharing their stories with you. My first interview will be with Patricia Richardson. We met at this year's Los Angeles Women's Festival. She's a driven and motivated woman filmmaker who produced and directed her first feature film. I don't want to tell you to much so you'll have to wait for my profile of her feature film Detour in my a future blog. Stay tuned....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Posts for a Purpose

Hello all,

In the world of social media, it seems like a lot of people want to get out what's in their head and share it with the world. And while sharing is caring ( the Care Bear's slogan), sometimes people disseminate TMI, too much information. I  know we've all seen it in our facebook or twitter threads at some point and have thought to ourselves, should we unfriend this person.

I want to change that dynamic for myself and post for a purpose. I feel like I've already begun that with my facebook and twitter accounts, but even I stray and may over share at times.

Some of you've may have seen my fact of the day, online petitions, and numerous articles that reflect news that interests me.  In addition to these main posts I want my status updates to reflect a theme. I realize I can I can cut back on my own, "I'm going to workout," or "This is where I'm at," posts.  I may still write these status updates on occassion but my goal is to significantly cut back on that and be more meaningful about what I share with my network of friends, colleagues, and associates. 

From Monday through Friday each of my posts will follow a theme. Here they are:
  • Mondays - I will post my fact of the day
  • Tuesdays - I will post my inspirational quote of the day
  • Wednesdays - I will post my "old school" or "throw back" hip-hop video
  • Thursdays - I will post a tip of the day
  • Friday's -I will post a "throw back" or "current rock/alternative video
I'm going to take a break on the weekends and make time for the writing and less posting. I'm sure I will still be sucked in at times, but my goal is to social network with more of purpose and encourage people to learn something that may not know.

Check out my latest statust update on my facebook page. Note: If you're not a friend, you won't be able to view this link, so make sure to request if you're interested in checking out my posts for a purpose.

Thanks for reading. I'll be back with another post this weekend. Stay tuned....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Highlights from the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival

Sunset 5 Theater, West Hollywood, CA.
I flew out to Los Angeles on Friday, March 25, 2011. I was looking forward to sunny skies and warmer temperatures, unfortately that wasn't the case. I didn't get the sunny, Beach Boys California weather until my last day there. Instead I got rain and cloudy skies, but I guess it beat whatever was happening on the east coast. Luckily, I wasn't in town for the weather, I was there to attend the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival.

For those of you who neglected to read my last blog entry, the 2011 Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival is a non-profit 501c(3) organization established by Diana Means to empower women filmmakers to create diverse roles for women. Each year in March the festival showcases narratives, documentaries, animation and student short films. The festival’s programming reflects Diana’s commitment to educate and inform audiences of social political and health issues impacting women globally.

I was both honored and excited to be a part of a festival that solely focused on films written, produced, and directed by women. I was in the company of some fantastic women filmmakers. Many thanks go out to Diana Means, her volunteers, and the attendees who made this year's fest a worth while event. Below are my "top seven" highlights from this year's festival.

Posing with Richard Riehle after the screening
of Head Over Spurs in Love.
 7. The Screening of Head Over Spurs in Love: In this romantic bro comedy, directed by Ana Zins, Joe runs into the love of his life, the one that got away, visiting home for the holiday. The kick is, it's on the eve of his wedding nuptials to the girl he's settling for. Now, Joe has one night to find out if Amy still loves him before he marries Daisy with no regrets. After the screening there was a great Q&A with the director, producer, and cast. Getting a photo with Richard Reihle was an added bonus.
6. The Screening of Atomic Mom:
This feature length documentary produced and directed by M.T. Silvia tells the story of two lives, two mothers, affected by the atom bomb - that of a scientist involved in the post-war development and testing of the bomb and the one on whom it was unleashed. M.T.'s film like many documentaries is a true labor of love. It took her six years to complete this story, of an American Scientist and a Hiroshima Survivor finding peace decades after the bombing, empowers individuals and communities to work toward global unity. The film inspires dialogue about human rights, personal responsibility, and the possibility – and hope – of peace.

5. Networking with Fellow Filmmakers: One of the main reasons filmmakers attend festivals outside of promoting and getting their film in front of an audience is to network with colleagues. It was great to see the film's of other women filmmakers and know hear our universal struggles as women. I met some people who are great visual storytellers. I plan to stay in touch. Ladies you know who you are.

Poster of Finding Jenua outside of the theater.
4. The Screening of Finding Jenua: This is the feature film debut of screenwriter and director Alison Mason. It's a poignant story about love, loss and finding one's place in the world. A drama with mystery that's told in an unconventional way, unraveling like a memory and tying us back together with the simple beauty of human connection. The film will screen next at the 2011 Newport Beach Film Festival. Congratulations to Alison and her cast.
3. Attending the Distribution Workshop Luncheon by Akua Boyenne: It is so easy to forget about the business side in the film business. Classes aren't really taught on it, instead screenwriters and filmmakers are charged with honing their craft and learning the aestitics behind the process. To many artist don't know what to do when they finally get to a point when they're ready to ink a distribution deal. Luckily, we had Akua Boyenne, an entertainment lawyer to school us on the main points and terminology within a theatrical distribution contract. She gave two phenominal workshops on Negotiating The Theatrical Agreenment and Self Distribution- Exploring Alternative Distribution. While I won't need to use the information at this time, it is something I can go back to and always have when I'm ready to start talking distribution for my script idea or film.

2. The Screening of Real-Life Mallory: This was one of my favorite shorts of the festival.It's a powerful short film written and directed by R.L. Maynard that humanely deals with the subject of euthanasia.When Mallory, the lead charater finds out some devasting news about her health, she makes a life changing decisision. She must overcome her friend's denial, anger, and depression at a good-bye dinner. I was drawn into Mallory's story instantly and felt the rollercoaster of emotions the characters were grapling with.  I look forward to seeing more films written and directed by Renee.

Renee, Aaliyah, and Cynthia posing for a picture
before the screening of After the Headlines

1. The Screening of After the Headlines: It was great to have After the Headlines in front of a new audience and the Q&A by Diana Means with the other filmmakers in my program was a memorable experience I won't soon forget. A special thank you to Renee, Alison, Cynthia, Shannon, and Patty. You ladies rock!!

I had many positive takeaways from this festival, but my biggest is that women screenwriters and filmmakers need to keep telling the stories we want to tell. There are film festivals and communities that will embrace our stories.There's an audience for the films I want to write despite what industry insiders say. Getting to this stage is hard work and getting your film onto a screen for a general audience is even harder work, but I'm encouraged and reengergized about the creative process. I also have my business lens on too. Time to get back to the work. I'm ready.